SCHUMER LAUNCHES PUSH TO GET NEW COPS FOR CITY OF NEWBURGH FED PROGRAM TO HIRE COPS UNFAIRLY RESTRICTS SMALL CITIES WITH HIGH CRIME RATES LIKE NEWBURGH FROM GETTING COPS THEY NEED AND DESERVE
Schumer Launches Two-Pronged Push – First, Urges Change To Fed Program To Get More Cops For Newburgh & Second, Pushes To Help Newburgh Get Highest Number Of Cops Allowed Under Current Program Guidelines – 4
Newburgh Currently Seeking Fed Funds To Hire 4 Police Officers – Even This Number Would Make A Major Difference Since Not Enough Cops Are On Patrol
Schumer: Newburgh Should Be Able To Get Funds It Needs To Hire New Cops & Not Be Restricted By Arbitrary Limits
Today, at the Police Headquarters in Newburgh, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer launched a twopronged push to get more cops for the City of Newburgh, whose police force has declined from 125 officers in 2000 to a little under 80 officers today despite a crime rate that is among the highest in the nation. First, Schumer announced that he would be launching an effort to make significant changes to a federal program that helps cities like Newburgh hire more police officers, called the COPS Hiring Program (CHP). This program plays a pivotal role in providing the funds Newburgh, and many cities like it, need to hire new police officers, but unfortunately the program sets a limit on how much funding a city can apply for that is based on the current size of the police force and not on the amount of crime. Specifically, the program currently has a hard cap that only allows a city like Newburgh to apply for funding to hire the equivalent of 5% of its police force - which in Newburgh's case is approximately 4 officers. Schumer said that this arbitrary limit unfairly restricts a small city like Newburgh, which has a dwindling police force and high crime rate, from applying for the amount of funding it truly needs. Instead of limiting cities to only being able to apply for the funding needed to hire the equivalent of 5% of its current force, Schumer urged the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) to incorporate local crime rates when setting its limits for how much funding any one city can receive through the CHP. This change would allow Newburgh to request funding for the number of cops it truly needs rather than what it is currently limited to.
In addition, Schumer pledged his support of Newburgh's application to the CHP, through which they are seeking funds to hire four new police officers, and he promised to do everything in his power to fight for this funding. According to Schumer, even though Newburgh should be allowed to apply for funding for more officers, even adding four new cops would make a major difference since the City has lost so many cops over the years and has indicated it does not have enough cops on patrol.
"A city with a crime rate as high as Newburgh's should not be restricted from seeking federal funds to hire the number of cops it truly needs," said Schumer. "The COPS Hiring Program is a godsend for communities around New York State, but it does not make sense to limit a city like Newburgh who needs these funds more than most. That is why I am calling for a big change in this program - instead of setting a hard cap on how much funding a city can receive, based solely on the size of a city's current police force, the program should also take local crime rates into consideration and allow cities with the highest crime rates to apply for funding to hire officers beyond the current cap. Every officer makes a difference, and if Newburgh were allowed to apply for even more funding, we could take a real bite out of violent crime."
Schumer continued, "Newburgh is currently seeking funding to hire four new police officers, which would be a tremendous help to a police force that has been shrinking over the years, and I will push the powersthatbe at the Department of Justice to make sure Newburgh gets the funding it needs this year, and has the opportunity to apply for more than just four officers in the years to come. Newburgh needs all the help it can get to lower crime, and the federal government should be stepping in to help."
Schumer was joined by Newburgh Police Chief Michael Ferrara and Newburgh City Manager Michael Ciaravino.
"Safety is at the top when it comes to the city of Newburgh's hierarchy of greatest need," said Michael Ciaravino, City Manager for the City of Newburgh. "When a community feels safe in their streets then it will usher in a whole new era of investment and will transform the city of Newburgh. We owe it to the police officers of our community to provide them with a sufficient number of officers per shift to ensure that their safety has been provided for as we ask them to protect our community. Enough is enough, we need to have a sufficient number of police officers to get this job done."
"In the City of Newburgh, policing is all about the numbers when it comes to crime numbers and neighborhood population density. We have an urban environment that becomes subject to crimes against persons and property if not effectively patrolled in numbers day and night," said Michael Ferrara, Police Chief for the City of Newburgh. "Several areas of Newburgh's 75 miles of policed city streets are perfectly suited to benefit from supplemental foot patrol. Foot patrol is the most effective form of preventative, proactive, community policing there is."
According to 2013 data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Newburgh residents have a 1 in 16 chance of being a victim of a violent crime or property crime in a given year, a rate that is significantly higher than the majority of U.S. cities, large and small. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, between August 2009 and March 2012, over 106 Bloods and Latin Kings gang members from Newburgh were caught and tried in New York courts. Altogether in 2012 - the last year where comprehensive statistics could be found - there were 5 murders, 19 rapes, 307 instances of aggravated assault, 62 stolen vehicles and 36 separate shooting incidents that resulted in 43 people being shot. All of these numbers were up from 2011, showing that crime continues to be a problem in Newburgh, and that it continues to get worse.
In total, the Newburgh police force has 77 uniformed officers, which is nowhere near the optimal number for the city since most are often dealing with emergencies or paperwork backlogs. In particular, the city often struggles to have enough cops available to conduct foot patrol and build up positive relations with the community, a crucial element for successful policing. The four officers the city is seeking to hire through the CHP - an application that Schumer is supporting - would predominantly be assigned to foot patrol and help the police force focus more on community policing. If Newburgh's application is approved, the City would receive the funding it needs to keep these four officers on the beat for at least three years. The City, however, has indicated that in a perfect world, it would apply for funding to bring on 20 new cops, which is one of the main reasons Schumer is seeking to change the funding limits of the CHP program.
The COPS Hiring Program (CHP) is a competitive grant program that provides funding for cities like Newburgh to hire new police officers, rehire recently laidoff officers, or maintain officers scheduled to be laidoff. Specifically, the program gives additional consideration to applicants that are looking to hire police officers to focus on select community policing issues as well as applicants that demonstrate a clear goal of reducing violent crime. Schumer argued that if these are elements that CHP considers as part of its application process, it should allow cities like Newburgh, where violent crime is a major problem, to apply for more cops than they are currently allowed to apply for, since even a few more cops on the street could help Newburgh take a major bite out of violent crime. The program currently contains a hard cap that only allows cities to apply for funding to hire the equivalent of 5% of its current police force. Schumer argued that this hard cap should be lifted, and instead should take into account crime statistics, so cities like Newburgh with high crime rates are not restricted from applying for the cops they need.
A copy of Senator Schumer's letter to Attorney General Eric Holder is included below:
Dear Attorney General Holder,
Thank you for your ongoing support to local law enforcement to ensure our cities and towns are able to provide community oriented policing. The COPS Hiring Program (CHP) is vital to local communities facing violent crime. This is a mission central to the work we do both in Congress and throughout the federal government.
In my home state of New York, violent crime in the City of Newburgh has remained a significant problem for years, especially since they have lost nearly 40% of their police force since 2000. According to 2013 data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Newburgh residents have a 1 in 16 chance of being a victim of a violent crime or property crime in a given year, a rate that is significantly higher than the majority of U.S. cities, both large and small. Over 100 gang members have been caught in the area in recent years. Altogether in 2012 - the last year where comprehensive statistics could be found - there were 5 murders, 19 rapes, 307 instances of aggravated assault, 62 stolen vehicles and 36 separate shooting incidents that resulted in 43 people being shot.
Funding from the CHP would greatly aid Newburgh, which has a dwindling police force and a high crime rate. However, the CHP program has an arbitrary limit on the amount of funding a city can apply for based on the size of the police force and not on the amount of crime. I'm asking you to lift this restriction and take into consideration local crime rates. In addition, I would like to pledge my support to Newburgh's application to the CHP to fund the hiring of four new cops. Every officer added to the streets of Newburgh will make a difference to the amount of crime faced by the community.
In order to ensure that the communities facing rising crime are able to apply for sufficient resources to push back the rising tides, I ask you to consider a variety of circumstances in determining CHP applications. Thank you for your continued support of local law enforcement and I look forward to working with you on this important issue.?
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
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