- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 18, 2003

Top COPS

As the author of the legislation creating the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program, I want to set the record straight regarding Mona Charen’s column, “About those police…” (Commentary, Friday).

First, the position of the Justice Department regarding COPS’ performance is misstated. Awards have been made to fund 117,000 police officers, and the Justice Department’s own 2002 performance report concluded that 88,000 of these cops are on the street today, numbers far higher than used by Mrs. Charen.

The discrepancy between the numbers above is due primarily to the fact that it takes an average of 18 months to recruit, hire and train police officers. The Justice Department reports that out of a pool of 100 applicants for community policing jobs, only seven are likely to complete police exams and training successfully. The public would not be well served if COPS directed grantees to compromise their recruiting, hiring or training procedures.

Mrs. Charen’s reference to “a maximum of 57,000” new police is based on a 4-year-old study and has long since been overtaken by newer data. And while “some” communities do indeed encounter problems once the 3-year period of the grant expires, they are a distinct minority. The Justice Department’s own studies indicate that 92 percent of all police departments retain COPS-hired officers once the grant ends. As a result, COPS has dramatically increased the number of police patrolling the streets, and funds have been used to get officers out from behind their desks and into the neighborhood where they can do the most good.

Mrs. Charen’s assertion that measuring the impact of COPS on crime is “impossible” ignores the major research that has been done on this subject. The Justice Department notes in its performance report submitted to Congress that a recent study concluded COPS grants “had a statistically significant association in lowering property crime and violent crime in cities with populations greater than 10,000. Over 90 percent of the U.S. population lives in cites of this size.”

Describing this report as a “self-audit” is inaccurate. The report was authored by two noted criminologists through a grant awarded by the Justice Department. COPS played no role in the conclusions it reached. The report has been reviewed by the authors’ peers at least six times, which is six more times than any reports produced by the Heritage Foundation.

Last year, the nation’s top cop, Attorney General John Ashcroft, testified to Congress that COPS has “been a miraculous success.” He went on to note that COPS has “demonstrated the fact that hiring more people makes a difference in the quality of life and the level of crime.”

Mr. Ashcroft is right. Police chiefs across the country sing the praises of COPS, and citizens living in safer neighborhoods because of the brave work done by the men and women of law enforcement know that taxpayer dollars are best spent ensuring the security of our hometowns.

So, let’s hope Mrs. Charen is right when she writes that COPS “will never end.” Programs that set measurable goals, meet them and make cities and towns safer should not end. They should be replicated and continued, a goal shared by a majority of my colleagues over the past several years.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

Senior Democrat

Senate Judiciary Subcomittee on Crime, Corrections and Victims’ Rights

Washington

Filibuster peace

In his column “Strategy to break the bench logjam” (Commentary, Tuesday), Bruce Fein uses historical references to suggest that Senate Republicans seek a more understanding “Appomattox peace” with their Democratic colleagues over their filibustering of judicial appointments, rather than an unconditional, sow-salt-in-their-fields “Carthaginian” peace. However, his advice begs the question whether Senate Republicans are dealing with honorable adversaries. Are the likes of Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer of New York, Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, latter-day Robert E. Lees, who was an honorable opponent? I think not. In their fanatical adherence to a leftist worldview, they are far more reminiscent of misguided religious zealots, impervious to reason and goodwill. The offer of an “Appomattox” peace would merely be regarded by them as weakness. Thankfully, many Senate Republicans seem to realize this.

DR. J.A. VAN GERPEN

New Orleans

Self-lobbying

I would like to thank James Morrison for the attention he paid me and my work (“Embassy Row,” World, Tuesday). Just for the record, I would like to point out that I did refuse to represent one dictator, Gen. Mohammed Farah Aidid, the Somalian warlord, during the early 1990s.

I have often been labeled the “lobbyist for the impossible” by media outlets. It surprises me how often the press and the public make judgment calls based solely on surface aspects. The dynamics of foreign relations, however, are much more complex and often it is a two-way process. A country may act in one way to promote long-range U.S. security interests, but may be engaged in other practices that are counter to our values and customs. This was especially true during the Cold War.

My job is to separate the facts from the fiction and try to improve relations between that country and the United States. My firm cooperates with the U.S. government while pursuing the objectives of our foreign clients. Thus, we keep the interests of both of the countries in mind. In fact, a July 5, 1990 story in The Washington Post on the front page of the Style section quoted a State Department official calling it a “collaborative arrangement.”

My firm has been credited as one of the most effective throughout my 25-year career as a Washington lobbyist by publications including The Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, the National Journal and the Miami Herald.

EDWARD VON KLOBERG

Chairman and founder

Washington World Group

Washington

Studying female dysfunction

Opposition to an agency of the National Institutes of Health funding research of female sexual dysfunction is misguided on many levels (“Inside the Beltway,” Nation, Tuesday).

First, a few members of Congress questioned why a study on female sexual dysfunction was funded while other studies were rejected. The fact is that almost 70 percent of research applications fail to receive funding from NIH. Applications are peer-reviewed and independently scored by expert scientists who ensure that only the research proposals of the highest scientific merit receive support from federal funds.

Next, the congressmen questioned why the research was needed. They are entitled to their opinions, of course, as are all Americans, but there are many women who may have a different perspective. Female sexual dysfunction is an entirely real, yet under-recognized problem. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that 43 percent of women have experienced sexual dysfunction in the past year, while another study found only 14 percent of doctors offer any treatment for female sufferers. This represents a huge treatment gap for women. The gap is much smaller for men, who have widely prescribed medications. Treatments for male sexual dysfunction are readily available.

Finally, questions were raised over the methods the researchers used. I can’t imagine why the critics feel qualified to second-guess a peer-reviewed research project. The study in question was appropriately — and highly — scored by experts in the field, who did not let politics interfere with the scientific process.

If the critics had their way, science would take a back seat to politicians and research would have to pass political litmus tests.

WAYNE C. SHIELDS

President and CEO

Association of Reproductive Health Professionals

Washington

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