The 1992 general elections in the United States were an important occurrence in the history of America. The campaigns towards the election saw presidential aspirants take a public stand in the fight against crime. The contestants, George Bush and Bill Clinton both stated their stand on the escalating crime rate in the American society (Oliver, & Marion, 2011). The result of the election was the formulation and implementation of the law that has become an important milestone in the American crime control history. This paper looks at five important processes in the Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
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According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s crime reports, violent crime rates escalated between the year 1991 and 1992; these crimes were murder, rape and robbery. The major topic of discussion at the time was on the war against drug as the cocaine epidemic was rampant from the late 1980s and juvenile violence increased. The Brady Bill continued to hit the headlines as did the issue of gun violence and other topics emphasized by the Bush administration (Oliver, & Marion, 2011). These topics include the exclusionary rule, death penalty and insanity defense among others. The 1992 general election campaigns have importance to the American problem with Bill Clinton making crime his primary issue as George Bush concentrated on drugs.
While the national problems seemed to be the issues of crime and drugs, the police department across the nation had found a possible solution through community policing. The community policing projects developed in the grassroots level in the 1980s and funded by the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The policing policy was a rejection project on the traditional policing methods. Where the method of random patrols, rapid responses and application of technology to criminal investigations had no impact on crime, police agencies and other stakeholders wondered what would work.
The concept of police-community partnership became the new shift in policing practices. The community policing fell under three categories; strategic, neighborhood and problem oriented. The strategic policing involved the approach of cracking down minor crimes and disorders. The neighborhood approach involved bringing the police and the community together through integrative patrols. Problem-oriented policing adopted the SARA model to address specific problems (Oliver, & Marion, 2011). However, under the community policing approach, the SARA model involved both the police and the citizens. The community policing project was well received by a citizen. However, it appeared to have a liberal perspective due to its emphasize on power sharing and community partnership.
In 1992, Governor Clinton sought the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency positioning himself as a law-and-order president. He took a firm stand on crime and retained traditional liberal policies on rehabilitation, drug treatment and other programs aiming at improving the standards of life. His stance was so firm in crime as the rates escalated so high in the previous decade. His presidential campaign aimed at increasing the number of police in the street by 100, 000. He also promised to form a Police Corp modeled after the military Reserve Officer Training Corps (Oliver, & Marion, 2011). Other crime related programs included the community policing that target white-collar criminals, extending drug counseling and treatment program, favor innovative sentencing and punishment options.
Clinton’s strategy was powerful than that of President Bush. Clinton argued that Bush confused being tough with being smart on matters relating on drugs. He argued that Bush’s policy on how to handle criminals and crime was insufficient considering the American problem. Clinton’s strategy on crime contained both conservative and liberal ideologies. It included policies on illicit drug abuse, law enforcement, domestic violence, firearms and prisons and other policies to help the American society (Oliver, & Marion, 2011). As a result of Clinton’s crime control policies, he was successful on crime issues. He viewed crime as a strategy of uniting Americans other than dividing the nation. While Clinton prioritized the fight against crime and stated his position on capital punishment, Bush softened the whole issue of crime in his campaigns. In that accord, he won the elections and made his priority implement hi promises on the fight against crime.
Upon his swearing in, President Clinton dropped the crime problem he had so much advocated in his campaigns. There are three factors that might have contributed to the president’s reaction; politics, personnel and priorities (Sims, 2004). Political factors assumed the president to take the crime issue rightly in relation to his election victory. Personnel issues include the absences of some of his transition team in his administration. In terms of priorities, he concentrated on “ old issues” such as the economy, children welfare and healthcare which were not part of his manifesto.
The president’s commitment on war on crime came on August 11, 1993. He presented his plan arguing that the first duty of government is to ensure the safety of its citizens. In relation, he proposed to add 100, 000 police officers, pass a waiting period on the purchase of arms and reduce the number of appeals for death-row prisoners. Other proposal included the stoppage of the importation of assault pistols and a reduction in the number of licensed gun dealers. Clearly, the crime agenda was back on the state’s plan.
Despite the president commitment on the implementation of his campaign agendas, the White House did nothing on the drafting the crime control legislation (Sims, 2004). Senator Joe Biden and Representative Brook had the mandate of drafting the anti-crime legislation and introducing a bill into their respective houses. However, the bills differed as the senate bill did not include a waiting period on handgun purchase. Additionally, the senate bill reduced death penalty crime to forty-seven while the House bill extended them to sixty-four. The president was not playing his role effectively as he left the burden to Biden and Brooks.
The bill was compromising as it incorporated policies with democratic ideologies with policies that reflected Republican philosophies. The differences highlighted by some prevention programs such as the Mid-night Basketball program. This program offered an extension to the recreation centers to ensure easy monitoring of the youths and reduce their involvement in crime (Oliver, & Marion, 2011). Other controversies rose from the additional funds for prison expansion and the expansion of various crimes that would net an individual the death penalty and more severe punishment for other crimes. The idea of adding the police officer was a conservative approach to crime control.
The formulation process continued and the weapon’s ban was eliminated due to the public opinion. The bill was passed not because of the agreement between the two but the fierce opposition against each other. As the process continued, the president had to secure 36 republicans to make up the deficit of the democrats against the bill. On august 21, the republicans achieved victory in reducing the amount spent on social programs. Finally, the bill passed with the support of 235 voters and 195 votes against it with five abstaining (Sims, 2004). On September 13, President Clinton signed the bill Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 into a new law of the United States of America.
The establishment of the Washington D. C office in 1994 was the initial process in the implementation process. The office would deliver funds to the state and local agencies responsible for the hiring of the 100, 000 police officers. Additionally, the office would disperse a series of grants to offer technology and fund particular community-oriented policing program. The community-oriented policing services would provide training to the agencies mandated to provide community policing.
The department of Justice founded the Community Policing Consortium comprising of four companies; the national sheriff’s association, the Police Executive research Forum, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Police Foundation. The companies would provide technical assistance and training to community-oriented policing groups (Oliver, & Marion, 2011). The consortium provided general training as well as specific training on the sheriff departments, community partnership and problem solving. The consortium hires additional police officers to assist in the transition to the community policing using the hiring grants.
The first hiring grant to the consortium in October 12, 1994 dubbed as ” COPS: Phase I grants.” The total was $200 million allocated to 392 states, county, municipality and tribal law enforcement agencies. The first phase made it possible for the hiring of 2, 700 police officers. The process of obtaining the grant was detailed, clear and transparent. Upon the approval of the application, the companies had the green light to recruit, hire and train the successful officers. The process was slow and, therefore, called for the employment of a new mechanism. As a result, there was the establishment of a two-step application process that was faster and easy.
The COPS office offered a third category of grant called special program grant. These grants were to address specific problems or to explore an innovative solution in the community. The Troop to COPS program initiation allowed the employment of veteran military personnel in the community policing. The announcement of the Youth Firearms Violence Initiative program was on September 13, 1995 (Antonopoulos, 2007). A program aimed at reducing the escalating crime by youths using firearms. There followed the establishment of other programs such as the Community Policing to Combat Domestic violence and Regional Community Policing Institutes.
The COPS office gets credit for their efficient grant delivery but fails in the monitoring process. The COPS office’s ability to monitor and evaluate the use and impact of the funds was inadequate. The grantees submit periodical progress and accounting reports that fail to capture a detailed usage of the grants. It is evident that companies receiving grant under the COPS FAST program are many; therefore, the evaluation process was inappropriate. However, the “ COPS AHEAD” grantees are more likely to get an on-site visit. The evaluation of the COPS had four goals to determine the outcome of the projects and the impact on the law. The four goals were;
In a recap, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 helped the American community in the improvement of security and the high level of crime. President Clinton gets credit for the implementation of the law. Despite the bill facing competition in the House, it was finally signed and became one of the greatest laws enacted in the history of America. The result of the law is inevitable, and the COPS office has done an incredible job.
Analysis of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1993 – H. R. 3355 (As Passed by the Senate November 19, 1993) U. S. Sentencing Commission February 22, 1994. Federal Sentencing Reporter, 7(2), 82-91.
Antonopoulos, G. A. (2007). Language of the Gun: Youth, Crime and Public Policy by B. E. Harcourt. The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 46(3), 317-319.
Oliver, W. M. & Marion N. E. (2011). Public policy of crime and criminal justice (2nd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, N. J.: Prentice Hall;
Sims, B. (2004). Examining Public Opinion about Crime and Justice: A Statewide Study. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 15(3), 270-293.