April 11, 2005


10 years and $10B later, COPS drawing scrutiny (Peter Eisler and Kevin Johnson, 4/10/05, USA TODAY)

It was a signature plan of Bill Clinton's presidency: Attack the rising crime rates of the early 1990s by putting 100,000 more cops on America's streets.

Ten years later, the grant program known as COPS (for Community Oriented Policing Services) has given $10 billion to help more than 12,000 police agencies hire and reassign officers. Politicians and police chiefs across the nation have said that COPS is a big reason for the sharp decline in crime rates that began in the late 1990s.

But now, with the largest buildup of local law enforcement in U.S. history winding down, a less flattering view of the COPS program is emerging: Federal audits of just 3% of all COPS grants have alleged that $277 million was misspent. Tens of thousands of jobs funded by the grants were never filled, or weren't filled for long, auditors found. And there's little evidence that COPS was a big factor in reducing crime.

At least Dunkin' Donuts made money.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 11, 2005 9:24 PM

Assuming the fraud rate is representative of all grants and the funding is proportionate (admitted a big if), it would add up to $9.23 billion misspent, or 92.3%.

Posted by: Gideon at April 11, 2005 9:41 PM

"At least Dunkin' Donuts made money."

The SEC is investigating charges that their accounting was fraudulent also.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at April 11, 2005 9:56 PM

I think it's Krispy Kreme Donuts that are in trouble accounting wise.

Posted by: erp at April 11, 2005 10:12 PM

We really shouldn't use the words 'donut' and 'Clinton' in the same sentence.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 12, 2005 12:06 AM

92.3% misspent? And this differs from any other program involving local government precisely how?

Throwing money to hire more Clancy Wiggums for local law enforcement was just a patently obvious flushing of taxpayers' money down the toilet. The money would have been far better spent on speeding up the criminal trial system, hiring more prosecutors, PDs, judges etc with an express mission to clear the docket.

Of course, we could pretty much eliminate the need for local law enforcement entirely by legalizing drugs, prostitution, usury and gambling, saving the taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and eliminating the allure of the drug biz to inner city youth. Nobody does drive-by shootings to sell Winstons. But then that would really reduce the size of government and whole herds of oxen would be gored, and we just can't have that.

Posted by: bart at April 12, 2005 11:38 AM