Ed. Note: Cross posted with the Department of Justice Blog.
Yesterday, along with COPS Director Barney Melekian, I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, to discuss the Justice Department’s most recent efforts to support our nation’s law enforcement community – and to ensure that police officers from coast to coast have the resources that they need and deserve.
In recent years, police departments like Cincinnati’s – and law enforcement agencies nationwide – have faced extraordinary budget difficulties and have been asked to do more with less. All across the country, law enforcement officials have risen to the challenge – and found innovative, collaborative ways to improve public safety and to keep crime trends heading in the right direction. But at a time when approximately 10,000 officer jobs have been cut, and three times as many positions are currently unfilled due to fiscal constraints, we have a looming national crisis on our hands, both in terms of public safety and public employment. In short, our citizens need protection – and our police officers and other first responders need jobs.
As part of the Department’s ongoing effort to meet these needs, I’m proud to report that the COPS Office is providing more than $240 million in new grants to support the hiring and retention of more than 1,000 officers in nearly 240 agencies and municipalities across the country. The Cincinnati Police Department alone was awarded more than $6.8 million in grant money from the COPS Hiring Program, which will fund 25 critical positions for three years.
Such targeted investments are essential to advancing the Department’s mission to be smart, as well as tough, on crime. These same priorities are reflected in President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act, which – in addition to creating new employment opportunities and bolstering economic growth – aims to put more officers on the beat and strengthen public safety efforts nationwide.
Although we all can be proud of – and inspired by – the courage and commitment that our nation’s law enforcement officers exhibit every day, we must find ways to take this work to the next level. The COPS Hiring Program – and this Administration’s determination to create and restore law enforcement jobs across the country – will allow us to do just that.