Justice Department awards $139 million to advance community policing

The federal government has awarded $139 million in grant funding to 183 law enforcement agencies across the nation through the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) COPS Hiring Program (CHP). The funds are to be dedicated to the hiring of additional full-time law enforcement professionals and the advancement of community policing efforts.

Community policing is a proactive approach that focuses on transforming leadership within agencies, improving relationships with the community, and targeting specific problems (e.g., gun violence, mental health crises). Per the announcement, 102 awardees (56%) will use the funding to focus on building legitimacy and trust, 41 (22%) will seek to address high rates of gun violence, 21 (11%) will focus on other areas of violent crime, and 19 (10%) will focus on combating hate and domestic extremism or police-based response to persons in crisis.

Key areas related to community policing range from things like de-escalation and communication skills to proactive patrol in high-crime areas, and directed patrol to target specific problems like gun violence or repeat offenders. Another component of community policing is to provide officers with the skills, tools, and coping strategies needed to build resilience and maintain their mental and physical wellness to succeed on the job.

A 2014 report by the COPS Office describes some of the earlier “lessons learned” by micro-grant community-policing awardees. Reviews of the research on community policing has found it to be effective in improving trust with the community and increasing perceptions of police legitimacy. Research on problem-oriented policing strategies as a whole has also found them to significantly decrease crime.