COPS' Universal Hiring Program (UHP) provides funding directly to local, state, and tribal jurisdictions for the salaries and benefits of newly hired officers engaged in community policing. COPS awards funding through UHP to help law enforcement agencies partner with their communities to develop creative and innovative ways to deal with long-standing problems. COPS merged the COPS FAST and AHEAD program functions into UHP in 1995, which incorporated both of these previous initiatives into one centralized grant program.
UHP provides funding to all eligible communities, regardless of size, for the direct hire of police officers and sheriffs' deputies. These newly hired officers are then deployed into community policing, or a comparable number of veteran officers may be redeployed into community policing activities in their place.
As with the FAST and AHEAD programs, UHP provides federal funding for 75 percent of a newly hired entry-level officer's salary and benefits, up to a maximum amount of $75,000 per officer, over the course of the three-year grant period. Departments are generally required to contribute at least 25 percent in local matching funds, unless the recipient agency is approved for a waiver of the local match based upon a demonstration of extraordinary fiscal hardship.
COPS has announced 63 rounds of Universal Hiring Program funding since September 1995. COPS had awarded approximately $4.76 billion under FAST, AHEAD, and UHP to hire more than 64,000 officers as of August 2005.