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Flypaper COPS

By William N. Evans and Emily Owens


The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (VCCA) of 1994 established the Community Oriented Policing Strategies (COPS) program which provided grants to states and localities to pay up to 75 percent of cost for new police hires for three years. By mid 2001, the COPS program had awarded an estimated $5 billion in hiring grants paying for 70,000 new police officers. In this paper, we use annual data from 2,074 cities with populations in excess of 10,000 over the 1990-2001 to show that for each officer paid for by grant funds, the size of the force expands by 0.70 officers, a result consistent with the large literature on the flypaper effect. The sizes of COPS grants are correlated with population and crime rates, but not the pre-COPS time trends in rates in crime or the size of the police force. This allows us to use the size of COPS grants as an instrument for the size of the police force in regressions where crime is the outcome of interest. These models indicate that police added to the force by COPS generated statistically significant reductions in auto thefts, burglaries, robberies, and aggravated assaults

Year: 2004
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