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Obama, Dems Want $4 Billion for COPS, Byrne Grant Programs

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President-Elect Obama's stimulus package calls for $3 billion in new Byrne Grants, and $1 billion in COPS grants—both are federal block grant programs for local police departments. For some reason, Democrats seem to love these grants. The Bush administration and Republicans in Congress had begun phasing them out.

As I explained in a piece for Slate last October, studies have shown both programs to be ineffective at fighting crime. Worse, there's good evidence that they actually cause harm. While designated for community policing efforts, COPS grants have actually been used by many departments to start or outfit SWAT teams, a point I explicitly made in July 2007 to Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), when I testified before the House Subcommittee on Crime he chairs. Scott seemed surprised when I told him.  But apparently, it didn't affect him enough to prevent him from restarting the program.

Byrne Grants, meanwhile, are often tied directly to drug arrests, warping police department priorities by encouraging low-level drug busts to juke up department arrest statistics . . . so they can apply for more grants. We have Byrne grants to thank for the civil rights disasters in Tulia and Hearne, Texas, and for the continuing problem of out of control multijurisdictional drug task forces.

I guess the important thing is that individual congressmen can once again send out self-congratulatory press releases announcing the big pile of pork they've just procured for the local police department.

NEXT: Safe, But Also Sorry

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  1. Damn you Obama!

  2. It has the word “community” in the sentence. They’re working on getting the word “sustainable” in there next session. The word “organic” is being floated as well.

  3. Sustainable, organic community policing. Damn, it practically sells itself. How much do y’all need?

  4. So what localities are getting these Byrne grants?

    Or out of curiosity, is the NYPD going to receive more funding from these Byrne grants? How discreet should I be if I happen to want to puff a jay outside?

  5. I don’t know anything about Byrne Grants, but I’ve seen COPS grants used to provide for actual, walking-a-beat-in-the-neighborhood community policing, as intended, and have read that the vast majority of funding was used this way.

    It would be best if there were tighter conditions put on these grants to make sure they were being used the right way, ideally in the legislation itself, but if not, in the regulations promulgated by the Justice Department for the program.

    It’s not meant to fund SWAT Teams or armored vehicles, and the funds shouldn’t be spent that way. That’s probably why Cong. Scott looked surprised to hear that it was.

  6. Democrat congress rep gets a COPS grant for his urban district. Police in the district use it to buy SWAT equipment. Police kill and elderly minority woman with the SWAT equipment when they conduct a no knock drug raid on the wrong house. Same Democrat congres rep holds a rally for interracial understanding, cause, you know, this wouldn’t of happen if we had enough hugging. Said congress rep’s popularity goes up and the district re-elects him, because he brings in the funds and feels their pain. What’s not to understand?

  7. Or out of curiosity, is the NYPD going to receive more funding from these Byrne grants? How discreet should I be if I happen to want to puff a jay outside?

    Remember when the dude with the baby stroller, but no baby, would walk back and forth on Central Park West in front of the Museum of Natural History and people would buy weed from him?

    Those days are long gone. You might want to be discreet.

  8. If it will put more Steve Guttenburgs on the streets, I’m all for it.

  9. Sustainable, organic community policing. Damn, it practically sells itself.

    They don’t even need to change the acronym: Just call them

    Community
    Organic
    Police
    Sustainability

    grants. Make the cops buy hemp uniforms with them or something. Although that would probably play hell with the drug-sniffing dogs.

  10. I’ve seen COPS grants used to provide for actual, walking-a-beat-in-the-neighborhood community policing, as intended, and have read that the vast majority of funding was used this way.

    Two questions:

    (1) How do we know that the claims that the funding was used for its claimed purpose are true?

    (2) Why aren’t the cities paying for this themselves?


  11. (2) Why aren’t the cities paying for this themselves?

    Because funding municipal government services is the responsibility of the Federal Government.

  12. Or out of curiosity, is the NYPD going to receive more funding from these Byrne grants? How discreet should I be if I happen to want to puff a jay outside?

    Remember when the dude with the baby stroller, but no baby, would walk back and forth on Central Park West in front of the Museum of Natural History and people would buy weed from him?

    Those days are long gone. You might want to be discreet.

    To go along with this, I’d be careful, since you might get sodomized with a radio antenna.

  13. Maybe the Dems will include a provision whereby police depts that habitually fuck up serving warrants lose their funding.

  14. (1) How do we know that the claims that the funding was used for its claimed purpose are true?

    The same way Radley knew that some grants were used to fund SWAT teams; because the municipalities that receive the grants are required to account for where the funds went.

    (2) Why aren’t the cities paying for this themselves? Because they can’t afford to.

  15. “To go along with this, I’d be careful, since you might get sodomized with a radio antenna.”

    …or a nightstick or a toilet plunger. Really, what is with the apparent fascination NYPD cops have for playing with suspects’ assholes?

    And WRT doing a J on the street – wait until you’re back at your apartment; much more safe.

  16. The same way Radley knew that some grants were used to fund SWAT teams; because the municipalities that receive the grants are required to account for where the funds went.

    Maybe. I’ve seen too much grant money “repurposed” to take this at face value.

    (2) Why aren’t the cities paying for this themselves? Because they can’t afford to.

    Thank you for begging the question. Why can’t they afford to? What else are they spending their money on? If its so goddam important that they can spend other people’s taxpayer money on it, why can’t they spend their own?

  17. Thank you for begging the question. Why can’t they afford to?

    Why, hookers and massive Daily Worker runs, of course.

    In general, recipient communities are pretty low on the income scale.

  18. Alot of people posting on something they no nothing about. Everybody wants results from the police (when they need them) and don’t want excuses of why there is not enough manpower to respond. Remeber what you posted when you are robbed, raped or other. These funds are used to fingerprint children for identity purposes as well as other actions to improve communities. Oh, I guess your neighborhood is perfectly safe and free of child molesters, rapists, theives and dopers.

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