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Providence Crime Update

A little more than a week ago, Providence had recorded two homicides this year. Now, that number has doubled, to four.

The way in which the body count can suddenly rise explains why some observers, as I wrote last week, remain guarded in discussing Providence's success in reducing violent crime. Then again, the two latest homicides -- one stemming from a dispute between two men with criminal records and another involving domestic violence -- don't necessarily mean that the city is any less safe.

On a related note, reduced federal funding for police officers is cited as a factor in why a number of cities are experiencing increased violent crime. In Providence, the staffing level has held steady, with just under 500 officers in the PPD, an increase from the comparable figure 10 years ago. US Representative Jim Langevin recently voted to pass the COPS reauthorization act, which is intended to help local law enforcement agencies around the US to add 50,000 officers over the next six years.

According to a recent press release from Langevin's office:

From 1995 -2005, the COPS hiring grants program, created under the Clinton Administration, helped local law enforcement agencies hire 117,000 additional police officers, which played an important role in significantly reducing crime across the country.  Over those 10 years, Rhode Island received $34.9 million in COPS funding, which enabled the state to hire an additional 385 police officers.

Unfortunately, over the last few years, the Bush Administration and Republican-led Congress showed little support for COPS hiring grants - reducing funding from more than $1 billion a year in the late 1990s to $198 million in 2003 and $10 million in 2005.  Then, in 2006, the Republican Leadership completely eliminated the program.

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