Date of Issue: April 17, 1996
For more information contact: Arturo Silva at (202) 507-6398
The 100,000 new police officers President Clinton promised would be on America's streets before the next century are more likely to be sent to neighborhoods sporting nicely cut lawns and picket fences than those occupied by drug dealers and haunted with the sounds of gunfire, say members of the African-American leadership group Project 21.
A Project 21 chart examining the geographical distribution of new police officers by comparing the 1994 Crime Bill's COPS grants with FBI Uniform Crime Reports shows that the areas that need police most won't get them. For instance, although the capital of Clinton's home state of Arkansas, Little Rock, accounts for 43% of that state's crime, Little Rock has only received 15% of the COPS grants awarded to that state by the U.S. Attorney General's office. Likewise, despite accounting for 76% of the state of New York's crime, New York City has received only 51% of the COPS grants awarded to that state. The cities of Baltimore, Portland, Boston, and Newark also show significant disparities in the percentage of crime committed in those cities and the number of police officers awarded to fight crime in those areas.
"House Republicans argued in 1994 that the crime bill was wrongheaded, shortsighted, and would be inconsequential in efforts to make neighborhoods safer," states Project 21 member Horace Cooper, Legislative Counsel to Majority Leader Dick Armey. "Reality has proven those predictions correct. There will be no real difference in crime control until punishment is increased, sentences are lengthened, and the message is sent that those who do the crime will do the time. Instead of focusing on midnight basketball, President Clinton should have focused on habeas corpus reform."
"The seven billion dollars appropriated for crime prevention by Clinton is foolishness because it does not deal with the source of crime," says Project 21 member Stephen Craft, a former heroin addict and resident of Riker's Island Correctional Center who will soon get his Master's Degree from Harvard Divinity School. "It's not surprising that the 100,000 new officers are going to neighborhoods that don't need them. Whenever the government tries to diagnose and treat moral problems in America, it almost never does right. Social programs and more police officers aren't the answers to our crime problem. The government is no substitute for God. Congress should have hearings on crime so that we can clear up once and for all what the root cause of crime is. The source is the breakdown of the family. The only effective crime prevention programs will be those that seek to support the institutions that strengthen the family."
One of the reasons for the disparity between where police officers are sent and the crime rates for those areas is the requirements for receiving the officers. In addition to the many conditions placed on communities applying to receive the officers, communities must match any federal funds given by 25%. This allows for communities who have a richer tax base to meet the matching requirements while leaving poorer areas that have higher crime rates neglected.
Project 21 is an African-American leadership group that seeks to promote black Americans who hold views not traditionally espoused by the nation's civil rights leadership. For talking points on the disproportionate numbers of police officers going to nonviolent crime areas, contact Arturo Silva at (202) 507-6398. ###
<<< Return to the Government in American Life Index
<<< Return to the National Center Home Page