SCHUMER: WITH ILLEGAL DRUG SEIZURE, FIREARM SEIZURE & OTHER CRIME ON THE RISE IN POUGHKEEPSIE, FED PROGRAM USED TO HIRE NEW COPS UNFAIRLY RESTRICTS SMALL CITIES WITH HIGH CRIME RATES, LIKE POUGHKEEPSIE, FROM GETTING THE ADDITIONAL OFFICERS THEY DESPERATELY NEED – LAUNCHES MAJOR PUSH TO CHANGE FED PROGRAM & SECURE CRITICAL FED FUNDING NEEDED TO HIRE 5 NEW COPS IN CITY OF POUGHKEEPSIE
Schumer Launches Two-Pronged Push – First, City of Poughkeepsie is Currently Seeking Fed Funds to Hire 5 Police Officers; Schumer Pushes To Help Poughkeepsie Get Highest Number Of Cops Allowed to Apply For Under Current Program Guidelines – 5
Second, Schumer Pushes New Attorney General to Change Fed Program to Get More Cops in Poughkeepsie – Schumer Says Poughkeepsie Should Be Able to Get Funds It Needs to Hire New Cops But is Currently Restricted by Arbitrary Limits Based On Its Small Size, Despite The Fact That it is High in Crime
Schumer: These Funds Could Help Make a Big Difference in Bolstering Poughkeepsie Police Force
At the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched a two-pronged push to secure the funds needed to hire additional police officers to Poughkeepsie’s force and make significant changes to the federal program that helps cities like Poughkeepsie hire more officers, called the COPS Hiring Program (CHP). Schumer explained that, despite an increase in illegal drug seizure, firearm seizure and other crime, the City of Poughkeepsie’s police force has declined in recent years to a little under 96 sworn officers as of just last year, as well as 34 civilians, which includes 13 dispatchers. Schumer said that with crime like illegal drug seizure and firearm seizure increasing, it is critical the City of Poughkeepsie be able to hire the officers it needs turn the tide of crime in the area. Therefore, first, Schumer pledged his support for the City of Poughkeepsie’s application for CHP funding, through which they are seeking to hire five new police officers, and will promise to do everything in his power to fight for this funding. Schumer said that even though Poughkeepsie should be allowed to apply for funding for more officers – which it has desperately said it needs – even adding five new cops would make a major difference so the City of Poughkeepsie can have more officers on patrol.
Second, Schumer renewed his push to make significant changes to the federal program that helps cities like Poughkeepsie hire these additional police officers, called the COPS Hiring Program (CHP). Schumer previously pushed to amend this program to allow small cities like Poughkeepsie with high crime rates to hire the additional cops they need, and said he is now pushing new Attorney General Loretta Lynch to consider this measure. Schumer explained the program currently sets a limit on how much funding a city can apply for based on the current size of the police force, rather than the amount of crime in an area. Specifically, the program currently has a hard cap that only allows a city like Poughkeepsie to apply for funding to hire the equivalent of 5% of its police force – which in Poughkeepsie’s case is approximately five officers. Schumer argued this arbitrary limit unfairly restricts a small city like Poughkeepsie, which has a dwindling police force and high crime rate, from applying for the amount of funding it truly needs.
“A city with crime challenges like Poughkeepsie should not be restricted from seeking federal funds to hire the number of cops it truly need,” said Schumer.
Schumer continued, “The COPS Hiring Program is a god-send for communities around New York State, but it does not make sense to limit a city like Poughkeepsie which 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 Poughkeepsie were allowed to apply for even more funding, we could take a real bite out of area crime.”
Schumer was joined by members of the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department.
“Senator Schumer has supported our grant applications in the past, including the HITDA designation for Dutchess County. There is a lot of competition for these grants and there’s only so much money to go around, but we are a community that needs support. With his support, we feel confident. This grant will create man power for our hotspots to supplement our regular patrols and build community relations,” said City of Poughkeepsie Police Chief Ron Knapp.
Schumer explained that the COPS Hiring Program (CHP) plays a pivotal role in providing the funds Poughkeepsie, and many cities like it, need to hire new police officers. However, 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, rather than on the amount of crime. Specifically, the program currently has a hard cap that only allows a city like Poughkeepsie to apply for funding to hire the equivalent of 5% of its police force – which in Poughkeepsie’s case is approximately five officers. This is because, despite increasing crime, Poughkeepsie’s police force has declined from 107 officers several to a little under 96 today. Schumer said that this arbitrary limit unfairly restricts a small city like Poughkeepsie, 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 Poughkeepsie to request funding for the number of cops it truly needs rather than what it is currently limited to.
In total, the Poughkeepsie police force has 96 sworn officers, which is nowhere near the optimal number for the city since most are often dealing with such high levels of firearm- and drug-seizure crimes. The five officers the city is seeking to hire through the CHP – an application that Schumer is supporting – would immensely help the city increase its patrolling efforts. If Poughkeepsie’s application is approved, the City would receive the funding it needs to keep these five 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 10-12 new cops, which is one of the main reasons Schumer is seeking to change the funding limits of the CHP program.
With illegal drug seizure, firearm seizure and other crime on the rise in Poughkeepsie, this federal program used to hire new cops unfairly restricts small cities with high crime rates, like Poughkeepsie, from getting the additional officers they desperately need and deserve. According to the Poughkeepsie Police Department, illegal drug seizure, including heroin and opioids has increased in recent along with firearm seizure. In 2014, the Dutchess County undercover drug task force said 25 percent of their cases involved heroin seizure in 2008; this caseload percentage grew to 60 percent by 2014. According to the Poughkeepsie PD, in 2012, 18.1% of the City’s violent crimes were firearm related. In 2014, that number jumped to 23.6%. In 2012, the City had 87 robberies, 18.4% were firearm related, while in 2014, there were 95 robberies, 30.5% of which were firearm related. In 2012, 18.3% of the City’s aggravated assaults were firearm related. In 2014, it jumped to 20.4%.The number of guns recovered/traced by police increased from 22 in 2007, to 44 in 2011, to 66 in 2014. Finally, since 2010, 15 individuals have been killed by gun violence, and there have been 99 shooting victims (persons hit) in Poughkeepsie alone. Schumer said these increasing trends show that crime continues to be a problem in Poughkeepsie, and that it continues to get worse.
The COPS Hiring Program (CHP) is a competitive grant program that provides funding for cities like Poughkeepsie to hire new police officers, rehire recently laid-off officers, or maintain officers scheduled to be laid-off. 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 Poughkeepsie, where crime is an increasing 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 Poughkeepsie take a major bite out of drug- and firearm-related crime in particular. 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 Poughkeepsie with high crime rates are not restricted from applying for the cops they need.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letters to Attorney General Loretta Lynch – regarding the DOJ program changes and his support of the CHP funding for Poughkeepsie – are both included below:
Dear Attorney General Lynch,
I want to thank you for your ongoing support of local law enforcement to ensure our cities and towns are able to provide community oriented policing. Within that effort, the COPS Hiring Program (CHP) is vital to empowering local communities to combat violent crime and ensure that our local communities remain safe. At this time, I am deeply concerned that regulatory limits placed on the CHP program are impeding local enforcement agencies from addressing the issue of rising violent crime in their communities.
Since 2008, the CHP has imposed caps on the number of officer positions that could be awarded to individual agencies. Because of this arbitrary limit, CHP fund allotments are weighed by the size of the police force as opposed to the city’s amount of crime. I’m asking you to lift this restriction and take into consideration local crime rates, and particularly violent crime rates, that often prevent even the largest police force from efficiently protecting their residents. For the communities experiencing high crime rates, the current limit is simply not enough to address increasing violent crime facing their city. Every officer added to the streets makes a substantial difference to the amount of crime faced by the community.
In my home state of New York, the City of Poughkeepsie continues to struggle with increasing violent crime rates with two fatal shootings in the past few days alone. Despite this increase, the local police force has declined to just under 96 officers. The uptick of violent acts throughout towns in Dutchess County and across NYC points to the increased need for additional police officers. In fact, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice System, firearm-related seizures, opioid abuse, and other violent crimes are all on the rise. Since 2012, the City’s firearm-related crimes have increased nearly 15%. Failing to provide local law enforcement with the flexibility to obtain the officers they need would do a disservice to their mission and to the community.
In order to ensure that police in our most needy cities are able to protect their local neighborhoods, I ask you to strongly consider reassessing the caps you place on officer positions so that they may address the growing crime needs in their communities. 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
Dear Attorney General Lynch,
I am pleased to write in support of the application submitted by the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department for funding through DOJ’s COPS Hiring Program (CHP). Such funding will enable the Poughkeepsie Police Department to hire five additional officers.
The City of Poughkeepsie Police Department consists of more than 96 sworn members and approximately 34 civilians, which include 13 dispatchers. The department is divided into specific sections: The Command Administration, Support Services/Training and Development, Evidence, Detectives and Juvenile Divisions, Patrol Divisions, Neighborhood Recovery Unit, Crime Analysis, Main Street and Traffic, Parking Enforcement, Records Sections, and Animal Control. It is part of the Dutchess County Drug Task Force. The department also has a K-9 Officer and an Emergency Services Unit.
With funding, the Poughkeepsie Police Department will hire five additional officers to restore an updated version of community policing and provide for directed patrols, including on foot and on bicycles, with a focus on violent crime and gun crime. New hires will be directed to enhanced community policing services, with a focus on engaging the community in problem solving. Preference will be given to post-9/11 veterans. Hiring additional officers will ultimately make the streets of Poughkeepsie safer, and allow residents to perceive that they are safe within the community. I applaud the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department for its foresight and sincerely hope the application meets with your approval.
Thank you for your consideration.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator