Justice Department Announces $139 Million In Grants To Advance Community Policing

November 18, 2021

By a Biometrica staffer

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced more than $139 million in grant funding through the department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) COPS Hiring Program (CHP). The awards provide direct funding to 183 law enforcement agencies across the nation, allowing those agencies to hire 1,066 additional full-time law enforcement professionals, the DOJ said.

“The grants we are announcing today will enable law enforcement agencies across the country to hire more than 1,000 additional officers to support vitally important community oriented policing programs,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in the statement. CHP is a competitive award program intended to reduce crime and advance public safety through community policing. 

CHP provides funds directly to law enforcement agencies to hire new or rehire additional career law enforcement officers, thus, increasing their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts.

Of the 183 agencies who were awarded grants per the DOJ’s announcement, around half will use the funding to focus on building legitimacy and trust between law enforcement and communities; 41 agencies will seek to address high rates of gun violence; 21 will focus on other areas of violence; and 19 will focus CHP resources on combating hate and domestic extremism or supporting police-based responses to persons in crisis.

Since its creation in 1994, COPS has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and Tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 135,000 officers, the DOJ said. CHP, COPS’ flagship program, continues to be in demand today, per the statement.

In fiscal year 2021 (FY21), COPS received 590 applications requesting nearly 3,000 law enforcement positions. For FY22, President Joe Biden has requested $537 million for CHP, an increase of $300 million, the statement adds.

On Oct. 1, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation to kick off National Community Policing Week. In his message, he said: “I have long been an advocate for community policing […]. It is especially important now, as State and local governments across the country continue to climb back from the once-in-a-century economic crisis triggered by COVID-19 last year. With their budgets decimated, countless communities were forced to cut essential services in 2020, including law enforcement and social services, just as a second public health epidemic of gun violence threatened the safety of their cities and towns.”

Community policing, or rather the modern form of it, is said to trace its roots back to the 1960s when riots and gang activities were on the rise. Law enforcement response to that increase in violent crimes dented police–community relationships and, hence, direct partnerships between the two were conceived as one idea to improve those relationships. The history of the COPS Office, though, goes back to 1994 when the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act authorized an $8.8 billion expenditure over six years. The COPS Office was created to distribute and monitor these funds.

Community policing, as Biden put it in his proclamation, is simply “the practice of law enforcement professionals working side-by-side with members of their communities to keep neighborhoods safe.” It is meant to recognize that police rarely can solve public safety problems alone, and, thus, encourages interactive partnerships with relevant stakeholders.

You can read more about community policing in an earlier piece we published here.

A complete list of awards under this announcement can be found here.