With violent crime on the rise in many American cities, local law enforcement agencies and elected officials are battling to stave off $1.1 billion in federal funding cuts proposed by President Bush, reports McClatchy Newspapers. The Bush administration is cutting grants for state and local crime-fighting programs on the grounds that they’ve outlived their usefulness or under-performed. One such program is COPS, the Clinton-era initiative designed to hire 100,000 police officers nationwide. Like many local law enforcers Greenville, S.C., Police Chief W.L. Williams disagrees with the Bush administration’s reasoning. His department received a $4.47 million COPS grant in May to improve radio communications so that police, fire, and other emergency agencies in four counties can speak to one another. “COPS is working,” Williams said of his department’s grant.
Some experts say declining federal grants for crime-fighting could be contributing to the rise in crime. They note that other factors are probably involved as well, including a generation of criminals incarcerated in the 1980s and ’90s that is now returning to the streets. Facing lobbying from groups such as the National Sheriff’s Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, many lawmakers in Congress are working to increase federal funds for local law enforcement.