Today, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced a new Collaborative Reform Initiative. Managed out of the Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), this initiative will be offering three different levels of assistance and expert services to state, local, and Tribal law enforcement partners nationwide. Each level of the initiative’s assistance is completely voluntary and provided at the request of law enforcement agencies. Attorney General Garland and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta unveiled the new initiative at the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) 2022 CEO symposium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“The Justice Department recognizes how much is being asked of law enforcement officers every single day, and we are committed to providing them with the support they need to build the collaboration, trust, and legitimacy that is essential to public safety,” said Attorney General Garland. “The Department’s new Collaborative Reform Initiative will provide our law enforcement partners nationwide with the opportunity to request support from a suite of customizable, targeted tools that will shape their capacity to keep communities safe and foster community trust.”
“Extensive consultation with law enforcement, community groups, and civil rights organizations identified a real opportunity to expand technical assistance options for law enforcement agencies that need it – and want it,” said Associate Attorney General Gupta. “This new collaborative reform approach builds on our highly successful CRI-TAC program and draws on the expertise of our partners to support law enforcement agencies as they implement best practices in community policing.”
The initiative will consist of three programs designed to build trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve; improve operational efficiencies and effectiveness; enhance officer safety and wellness; and develop and disseminate evidence-based, promising, and innovative public safety practices. This will be the first time in history that the COPS Office is managing and providing these various levels of assistance at the same time.
The new Collaborative Reform Initiative continuum will include:
- A continuation of the Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC). This is the first level of assistance – and the most targeted and discrete. Established in 2017, CRI-TAC provides a wide range of targeted technical assistance services. The Department’s COPS Office leads CRI-TAC. But CRI-TAC involves a coalition of support and expertise from 10 leading law enforcement stakeholder organizations. Through CRI-TAC’s “by the field, for the field” approach, the Department is able to facilitate customizable, short-term technical assistance on more than 60 topics. Those topics range from gun violence reduction and prevention, to officer safety and wellness, to community engagement. Subject matter experts from the field design tailored solutions in collaboration with each agency to address its individual needs. Technical assistance timelines are established at the pace of the requesting agency, ranging from three to six months. Last year, CRI-TAC worked with 171 law enforcement agencies. The new initiative will maintain CRI-TAC as its first level of support.
- An updated Critical Response program. A law enforcement agency experiencing a high-profile event or other special circumstance, and that determines it could use assistance, will be able to reach out to the COPS Office for help. Like CRI-TAC, this program is also customizable and provides flexible assistance to law enforcement agencies in a variety of ways. Once an agency connects with the Department of Justice, tools will be in place to offer support ranging from after-action reviews, to peer-to-peer exchanges, to data analysis and recommendations, to facilitating discussions with experts. The timeline for these engagements will vary depending on the needs and scope of the situation, but it will range anywhere from two weeks to nine months. As is the case with CRI-TAC, this program is completely voluntary and will be offered as a way for the Justice Department to support the work of its law enforcement partners. The initiative will maintain the Critical Response program as its second level of support.
- An updated Organizational Assessments program. Building on lessons learned from the initial Collaborative Reform model that launched in 2012 but ended in 2017, the third and most intensive piece of this new model will be our Organizational Assessments program. This program will offer the most intensive form of support, involving in-depth assessments on systemic issues. Under the new initiative, when an agency participates in the Organizational Assessments program, areas for reform will be addressed with timely, ongoing, and actionable guidance. Participating agencies will be provided with the technical assistance they need to accomplish reforms as they are identified. To help ensure transparency and accountability, the Department will also routinely report the status of its efforts to the public. This level of support is intensive; it is designed to transform a law enforcement agency’s operations and its relationship with the community. This program is a voluntary opportunity for an agency that knows it needs to make changes, and wants to make changes. The Department will prioritize offering this level third level of support to agencies that have a clear desire to engage with the model.
In the coming weeks, the COPS Office will be releasing open solicitations for experienced service providers to reestablish the Critical Response program and the Organizational Assessments program. CRI-TAC is currently operational and will continue to be a resource that is part of the continuum of services.
Additional information on these new programs can be found on the COPS website at https://cops.usdoj.gov/CRIprogram.
The COPS Office is the federal component of the Department of Justice responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. The only Department of Justice agency with policing in its name, the COPS Office was established in 1994 and has been the cornerstone of the nation’s crime fighting strategy with grants, a variety of knowledge resource products, and training and technical assistance. Through the years, the COPS Office has become the go-to agency for law enforcement agencies across the country and continues to listen to the field and provide the resources that are needed to reduce crime and build trust between law enforcement and the communities served. The COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local, and Tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 135,000 officers.
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- Areas with High Poverty: Changing How the 10-20-30 Funding Formula Is Applied Could Increase Impact in Persistent-Poverty Counties
May 28, 2021What GAO Found Some federal agencies have been statutorily required to use the “10-20-30 formula” when allocating funding for certain programs. That is, agencies must allocate at least 10 percent of designated funds to counties with poverty rates of at least 20 percent over the last 30 years (persistent-poverty counties). However, GAO found the formula has not always increased the proportion of funding awarded to those counties. The Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund both awarded at least 10 percent of designated funds to persistent-poverty counties in fiscal years 2017–2020, but generally had done so before 2017. Most of their programs subject to the formula already were required to target funds to economically distressed areas. The Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development awarded less than 10 percent of designated funds to persistent-poverty counties in at least one fiscal year for six out of 10 appropriations accounts. Rural Development set aside 10 percent of designated funds for use in those counties, which officials said met the statutory requirement to allocate these funds. Officials said some programs had not received a sufficient number of applications from these counties to meet the threshold because the programs are not well-suited to areas with severe poverty. For example, it may not be financially prudent for local governments in persistent-poverty counties to participate in a loan program to finance community facilities if the governments cannot service the debt. The purpose of the 10-20-30 formula—to increase the proportion of funding awarded to persistent-poverty counties—could be better achieved by focusing its application on programs that do not already target such areas and which can provide meaningful assistance to economically distressed communities. The three agencies GAO reviewed used different datasets and methodologies to identify persistent-poverty counties for the 10-20-30 formula. Appropriations laws for 2017–2020 required the agencies to use data from different years and sources, some outdated, to identify the counties. EDA also used a methodology that identified more than 100 additional persistent-poverty counties, than the other two agencies. Requiring each agency to identify persistent-poverty counties in this way is inefficient, and the inconsistency limits the ability to compare targeted funding across agencies. Using a uniform list of persistent-poverty counties, updated each year, would reduce administrative costs and facilitate assessments of the formula’s impact across agencies. Such a measure also could help ensure more consistent investment in areas with current poverty rates of at least 20 percent. USDA’s Economic Research Service has the technical capabilities to produce such a list and officials said that doing so each year would not be resource intensive because the agency already publishes other related work using the same data. Why GAO Did This Study Since 2009, the 10-20-30 formula has been applied to appropriations for certain federal programs and accounts. This includes programs and accounts administered by USDA’s Rural Development, Treasury’s CDFI Fund, and Commerce’s EDA that averaged more than $10 billion in each fiscal year from 2017 to 2020. GAO was asked to review certain issues related to the 10-20-30 formula. This report examines (1) the proportion of funds subject to the 10-20-30 formula that these agencies awarded in persistent-poverty counties in 2017–2020 and the effects on funding levels to these areas, and (2) how agencies identify persistent-poverty counties. GAO analyzed agency budget and administrative data for fiscal years 2017—2020. GAO also reviewed documentation, such as program descriptions and funding notices, and interviewed agency officials.
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