Cut to COPS Program Should Not Affect Local Law Enforcement

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When President Bush unveiled his $2.57 trillion federal budget this week, it contained more than $400 million in cuts to the COPS program, a program Bryan has used in the past to put three resource officers at the high school.

"We need officers in all different areas of the department and it allowed us to do that, where we wouldn't of been able to do it otherwise," said Lt. Choya Walling with the Bryan Police Department.

And in College Station, 12 officers were added to the payroll.

"The whole intent of it was to put more cops on the streets and that's exactly what we did with it," said Assistant Chief Mike Patterson.

In both cities, the grants have pretty much run their course, so any cuts to the COPS program should have a minimal affect locally. But, officers say the real problem is the loss of other federal dollars being diverted to new law enforcement programs with more political power.

"It seems to go from one thing to the next and right now the next most important issue is homeland security and so most of those funds are starting to go into those areas," said Walling.

Both departments are seeing a shift from funding of personnel to funding of equipment. In Bryan, the department is concerned about the future funding for the Brazos Valley Narcotics Task Force.

"That's a program that could go away if there's not enough funding for it. It's a joint program between other agencies and regardless of what we're able to do, the other agencies may not be able to pick up the difference," said Walling.

Bryan police say if cuts are made, and the effects are felt locally, the only option is to look for the needed money elsewhere.

In the meantime, President Bush's budget is waiting for congresses approval.