Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) is a federal public safety program whose goals are to add officer positions to the streets of communities nationwide and to promote community policing. Since the program's inception in 1994, local law enforcement agencies have received billions of dollars in grants to hire additional officers, acquire technology and civilian personnel, and implement innovative crime-prevention programs. To receive COPS grants, agencies are expected to implement or enhance community policing strategies illustrating community partnerships, problem solving, and organizational commitment. Given the large expenditures of funds, it is important for policy makers, among others, to have sound information on the effectiveness of the COPS program in reducing crime. Congress asked us to review one evaluation of the effectiveness of the COPS program--by Zhao and Thurman--and to render an assessment of its quality. In this report, we provide information on the extent to which this particular study's conclusions are supported by the data the researchers used and the analyses they conducted. GAO statisticians and methodology specialists reviewed the study using standard and widely accepted statistical and social science research principles.
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