Brindisi seeks more funding for federal COPS program

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In a push to recruit, hire, train and fund more community police in communities nationwide, Congressman Anthony Brindisi, D-22, Utica, is calling for a plan to double the federal funding for the Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) hiring program. 

In 2020, the program awarded 596 grants to hire 2,731 police officers at police departments across the nation, according to provided statistics. 

According to the Department of Justice, the COPS Hiring Program is a competitive solicitation, open to all state and local law enforcement agencies. Approximately $350 million in funding was available for the 2020 fiscal year through the program. The program provides up to 75% of the approved entry-
level salaries and fringe benefits of each newly hired and/or rehired full-time officer, up to $125,000 per officer position, over the three year grant period, according to information
provided.

This, as like most aspects of life this year, the COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact, and there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to funds available to municipalities.

Brindisi says the pandemic’s impact on local budgets, looming retirements and new ideas on what’s best for individual communities demands a doubling—to $700 million—for the entire federal pot so that cities and towns across America will have access to the funds they’ll soon need. 

“...COVID-19 has decimated local budgets in my district and in districts across the country, retirements in police departments also loom and filling those positions will require dollars. Even more, many communities are now conceiving what their own departments will look like in the future, and we have to help them fund that process,” said Brindisi in a statement. 

In a recent interview with Rome’s Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo, she said that as the city works to craft a budget for 2021 - which is projected to have at least a $2 million shortfall - a focus will be on preserving public safety.

However, she said that programs like COPS are typically contingent on a community’s crime statistics.

“Fortunately for us our crime statistics are typically low,” she said, adding that if the program guidelines she has been aware of from past years have changed, Rome would apply.

With that said, Izzo adds that as the city looks to craft upcoming budgets, all eyes will be on the lookout for any applicable grant or funding opportunities.

Brindisi’s opponent in the upcoming congressional election Republican Claudia Tenney called the measure “Brindisi’s phony proposal to increase police grants.” She added that “Brindisi...voted to slash police funding, sued police departments, wants to allow his family and donors to bankrupt police officers personally, and has opposed moves to condemn anti-police violence....The Brindisi-Pelosi agenda is anti-police, plain and simple.”

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