Soon after Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) unveiled a new criminal justice reform platform, she is getting ready to introduce a police-backed measure that would reauthorize the 1994 federal anticrime law’s police-hiring program, The Intercept reports. A presidential candidate, Klobuchar has received flack for her history as an aggressive prosecutor. She has tried to counter that with a plan that would allow the release of incarcerated people through the creation of a clemency advisory board and the installation of a presidential adviser to advocate for reform from within the White House.
Klobuchar also is working on a measure endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations and opposed by reform groups. The bill, to be cosponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), would authorize $400 million a year for hiring under the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office. That’s a $247 million increase over the last authorization of $153 million. “There’s no contradiction between increasing police presence — which poor, high-crime neighborhoods desperately need — and criminal justice reform,” said New York University public policy Prof. Mark Kleiman. He noted that funding for the COPS program could provide the resources for law enforcement to make changes that would positively impact communities. COPS proponents say the program has been responsible for a reduction in crime, but studies show that it has had little or no effect on crime. The American Civil Liberties Union, Drug Policy Alliance, NAACP, and the Sentencing Project say COPS has spent “billions of dollars for a purpose that many argue has fueled mass incarceration in the states. And all too often, the COPS Hiring Program supports unconstitutional policing practices and subsidizes failed police departments.”