New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney was in Middletown Monday to call on President Trump to retain a federal police program. Middletown is the latest city in Maloney’s 18th district to receive funding through the program to hire additional police officers.
Maloney says that since 1994, the federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office has sent about $14 billion to law enforcement agencies to fight crime. In New York since then, he says some $990 million has gone to nearly 500 law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
“So my message to President Trump is, if you want to back the badge, if you want to support law enforcement, talk is cheap but you have to put your money where your mouth is,” Maloney says. “The president ran explicitly on being the law-and-order candidate. That’s fine with me but this is where the test comes is when you propose your budget, you’re going to be smart about continuing investments because we know they work.”
Maloney, a Democrat, says three cities in his district benefit from the funding that local governments cannot afford.
“And since I’ve been in Congress, in just the last couple of years, we’ve been successful in bringing $1.6 million to local departments, like this one here in Middletown, but also in Newburgh and in Poughkeepsie. And, because of those efforts, we have secured funding for 13 officers — four here in Middletown, correct me if I’m wrong, five in Poughkeepsie and four in Newburgh,” says Maloney. “And that’s really important when you think about how these guys do their work and the kinds of things we ask them to focus on, particularly with emerging threats like the heroin epidemic, these resources are absolutely critical.”
And he has put this point on paper to the president.
“I’ve written a letter that we’re sending today to President-elect [sic] Trump. I’ve been in communication with members of the administration about their budget proposal because they specifically identify the COPS program for elimination in the president’s proposed budget,” says Maloney. “Now they haven’t made that proposal yet but are hoping they will not.
Maloney means President, not President-Elect Trump. Middletown Mayor Joe DeStefano, also a Democrat, says without money in the budget for additional police hires, his city would lose out for a community policing program that works.
“We found great effectiveness in policing with special units, street crime units and things of that nature, community policing, where we have a standing order basically on almost every shift for the police to get out and walk through the neighborhoods and meet people at their homes, have conversation with them about their neighborhoods and about their concerns,” DeStefano says. “So I think those things would suffer and that communication between police and residents; and that’s community-oriented policing, and what better way to do it with more staff.”
He says one of the four officers under the COPS program for Middletown was hired in September. Maloney says that if President Trump were to eliminate the COPS program, he is fairly certain the hire of the other three officers would be unaffected.
“I think most people would tell you — Democrat, Republican, Liberal or Conservative — that community oriented policing and the COPS program has been one of the real standout successful programs that the federal government has done to partner with states and local communities, and New York has definitely benefitted from it,” Maloney says.
Middletown Lieutenant John Ewanciw says the program is beneficial not only to the city but to the police force.
“The City of Middletown as a whole is growing so this is a mechanism and an avenue for us to grow our police department as well,” says Ewanciw.
He says the Middletown police department, counting one COPS hire, has 65 sworn members.