The budget deal approved by Congress that kept the federal budget from shutting down will make it harder for some struggling cities to keep their police stations and firehouses staffed, the New York Times reports. The COPS program was cut by $52 million in the current fiscal year. That means that the program, under which the Justice Department awards cities grants that pay the full salary and benefits of new officers for three years, will be able to pay for roughly 200 fewer officers this year than it did last year, when it paid for 1,388 officers.
The budget deal also changed the rules governing a similar program that helps struggling cities hire firefighters — reducing the grants so much, union and city officials said, that many cities may find themselves unable to take advantage of it. The new budget cut millions from programs that allow local law enforcement agencies to upgrade technology, including for crime analysis and DNA processing, and millions more from a program designed to help police and fire departments streamline radio systems so they can communicate with each other in emergencies. Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum said that while the federal government should not supplant what state and local governments do, it had provided vital resources to departments. These cuts come, he said, “at a particularly daunting time for state and local agencies.”