Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The 1994 Biden Crime Bill Flooded Cities With Militarized Policing


truthout |  The unending killing of Black people at the hands of police forces, and the sustained, relentless and highly visible police violence inflicted on protesters represent a grave and immediate national crisis. 

The Justice in Policing Act put forth by House Democrats attempts to address this moment, but falls frighteningly short. We will not see any end to this crisis until the federal government reckons with one of its most important roles in fueling police violence: money. 

There are aspects of the Justice in Policing Act, including ending qualified immunity and establishing a federal registry of police misconduct, that are not harmful. But the myriad ways in which it provides additional funds and legitimacy towards the current system of policing — whether through trainings, standards, data collection or accreditation programs — is neither responsive to the demands of the millions of people taking to the streets in protest, nor to the simple reality of what federal interventions would be most impactful — and most needed. 

To begin, Congress must grapple with an uncomfortable truth: By sending billions of federal dollars to local policing over the last 25 years, it has helped precipitate the policing crisis that we find ourselves in today. 

In 1994, Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which established the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program. The program was designed to incentivize state and local law enforcement agencies to purchase new equipment, develop and distribute new technologies, and ultimately increase the number of officers deployed throughout the United States. After an initial appropriation of $8.8 billion between 1995 and 2000, the COPS Program has granted over $14 billion to state and local governments since its establishment.
The program was successful in its mission — especially in flooding communities with policing.