Erie PA- Amid crime concerns in Erie, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) pushed for an increase in funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services program (COPS) and a measure that seeks to blunt the school to prison pipeline. The House of Representatives has proposed cutting the COPS program, which has put six officers on the streets in Erie since the program’s creation, by $325 million in its budget. Casey’s proposal to reform the juvenile justice system, the Youth Promise Act, would allow local communities to use more of their existing federal funding to invest in youth crime prevention strategies, such as mentoring programs.
“We know that many communities across the nation and in Pennsylvania, particularly Erie are dealing with the challenges of crime. There’s no silver bullet or purely federal solution to these challenges, but we can take steps that would have a substantial impact for Erie and other communities,” Senator Casey said. “By giving our officers the resources they need and investing more in at-risk youth we can begin to confront the challenges of crime in our communities.”
According to the Department of Justice, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) is the component within the U.S. Department of Justice dedicated to the concept that trust and mutual respect between police and the communities they serve is critical to public safety. This concept is the foundation of community policing and ensures that police and community stakeholders partner in solving our nation's crime challenges. Community policing is a law enforcement philosophy that focuses on community partnerships, problem-solving and organizational transformation. The COPS Office mission is to advance public safety through community policing.
The COPS Hiring program has been cut by $118 million since FY 2010. Each year Senator Casey has signed a letter to the Appropriations Committee in support of increased funding for the program. The program was flat-funded last year, and in both FY 2015 and FY 2016, the House Appropriations Committee has attempted to defund the program entirely. While authorization for the COPS program expired in FY 2009, the most recent funding authorization was for $1.05 billion. The only time funding approached that level was during the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
On June 3, 2015, the House of Representatives passed a Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill (CJS) that eliminated the COPS Hiring Program entirely for FY 2016. On June 11, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a CJS bill that would fund the program at $187 million, $62.5 million less than the President’s request, which Casey supported in a letter to the Committee in March.
Fiscal Year COPS Hiring Grants
- 2010 $298 M
- 2011 $247 M
- 2012 $166 M
- 2013 $190 M
- 2014 $180 M
- 2015 $180 M
Youth PROMISE Act
Bipartisan Legislation Introduced by Senators Bob Casey, Jim Inhofe, Gary Peters, and David Vitter
On any given day in the United States, approximately 60,000 young people are incarcerated, costing taxpayers about $5 billion each year. The Youth PROMISE Act (Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education) would empower local communities to fund, implement and evaluate evidence-based youth violence prevention and intervention strategies. These prevention practices, such as mentoring and after-school programs, reduce crime more effectively and at a lower cost than incarceration. In fact, a recent study in Pennsylvania found that it saved $5 for every $1 invested in high-quality prevention and intervention programs. Through a comprehensive and coordinated approach to youth violence prevention, the Youth PROMISE Act:
- Makes not more than 20% of the amount available for Youth Mentoring Programs in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency to carry out Youth PROMISE.
- Amends the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 to establish a PROMISE Advisory Panel to assist the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in:
- Assessing and developing standards and evidence-based practices to prevent juvenile delinquency and criminal street gang activity.
- Collecting data in designated geographic areas to assess the needs and existing resources for juvenile delinquency and criminal street gang activity. Authorizes the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to award grants to local governments and Indian tribes to:
- Plan and assess evidence-based and promising practices for juvenile delinquency prevention and intervention, especially for at-risk youth.
- Implement PROMISE plans, developed by local PROMISE Coordinating Councils (PCCs), for coordinating and supporting the delivery of juvenile delinquency prevention and intervention programs in local communities.