A New Jersey U.S. Senator is leading the charge to maintain funding for a program that allows communities in the Garden State and across the county to hire local police officers.

Siede Preis, Getty Images

Senator Frank Lautenberg, along with 13 Senate colleagues, has made a formal request – by letter – asking Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Richard Shelby, Chairwoman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to allocate $215 million in funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services  program – known as COPS - in the final version of the 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill.

Part of the letter reads “Following the horrific massacre in Newtown, Connecticut and other recent mass shootings, the President delivered recommendations to reduce gun violence in America...The COPS hiring program has been shown to help reduce violent crime, and we owe it to our communities to do everything we can to help slow the scourge of gun violence that has devastated so many”.

The funding would put an estimated 15 thousand new law enforcement officers on the street. Since it began in 1994, New Jersey has received almost $450 million from the COPS hiring grant program.