By Matt McKinney
A proposed $900 million extension of a community-oriented police program begun during the Clinton administration could pay for 2,600 additional police officers for cities across the country, including some in Minnesota, said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who introduced the bill last week.
Speaking Thursday at the First Precinct headquarters in downtown Minneapolis, Klobuchar said she introduced the bill to strengthen the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, a federal plan to put police officers on the street that was started when Minneapolis and other cities had much higher crime rates than they do today.
“Every year we face some political winds that try to eliminate this program or mess with it and we don’t want this to happen again, and that’s why we’re working so hard as a team to get this done,” she said.
Since it was created in 1994, the COPS program has sent $165 million to 372 Minnesota law enforcement agencies, allowing for the hire of 1,473 additional police officers and sheriff’s deputies, according to Klobuchar’s office.
Nationwide, the program has hired 125,000 officers at 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.
The bill filed by Klobuchar last week extends the COPS program for six more years until 2019, authorizing $500 million for hiring new officers, $250 million for technology improvements and $150 million for community-based prosecutor programs.The bill would also encourage local police agencies to hire former military personnel.