Attorney General Loretta Lynch kicked off National Community Policing Week in Dallas yesterday by announcing more than $119 million in federal grant funding for local law enforcement, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The money, which will enable 184 agencies to add or keep more than 900 police positions, aims to mend and fortify the public’s trust in their local officers via community policing initiatives, which have found wide support amid recent violence and subsequent protests. In July, a sniper killed five officers and injured seven others in Dallas as they guarded demonstrators protesting police killings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana. The city’s police force, which is set to receive $3.1 million to hire 25 new officers through the grants, had been plagued by low morale and low pay before the shooting.
The grants from the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services aim to overcome local funding obstacles. That model has its opponents. David Muhlhausen and Erica Little of the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation contend that the COPS grants, which have sent more than $14 billion since 1995 to further community policing by at least 13,000 state, local, and tribal agencies are ineffective in the fight against crime. “Grants that subsidize the routine activities of local law enforcement assign to the federal government functions that fall within the expertise, jurisdiction, and constitutional responsibilities of state and local governments,” they say, contending that past grants have been “fraught with waste, fraud, and abuse.”