The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) announced June 25 funding awards to more than 220 cities and counties across the country. The purpose of the grants is to create or save approximately 800 law enforcement positions.
Included in the awards is $125,000 to the Andover Police Department. According to Andover Police Chief Michael Keller, the three-year grant is specifically for the hiring of an additional officer. The grant will cover approximately 75 percent of the officer’s salary and benefits during that time.
“As was included in the grant proposal, with the addition of one officer, the Police Department will attempt to establish a community partnership program with local businesses, similar to the program we have with Home Owner and Neighborhood Associations, where officers would meet face-to-face with local business people on a regular basis, develop relationships and share vital information regarding crime, department programs and community issues,” Keller said.
Kansas public safety agencies will receive $481,963 of the more than $111 million being awarded. Joining Andover as grant recipients are the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Department ($113,468), the city of Liberal ($118,495) and the Paola Police Department ($125,000).
Nationwide, the grants will fund more than 600 new law enforcement positions and save an additional 200 positions recently lost or in jeopardy of being cut due to local budget cuts. All new law enforcement positions funded in the COPS 2012 Hiring Program must be filled by recent military veterans who have served at least 180 days since Sept. 11, 2001.
“This program is a win-win for law enforcement agencies in Kansas and for our military veterans,” said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. “These men and women have so much to offer to the communities they will be employed to serve and protect.”
In his State of the Union Address, President Obama called for a new Veterans Jobs Corps initiative to help put veterans back to work on a range of projects that leverage skills developed in the military, including first responder jobs. In February, the president announced that preference for this year’s COPS and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants would be given to communities that recruit and hire post-9/11 veterans to serve as police officers and firefighters.
“Today, we step up our support for recent veterans by offering them the chance to pursue meaningful careers in law enforcement,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. "At a time of budget shortfalls, these grants will provide opportunities for much-needed, highly-trained professionals – with a proven commitment to service -- to continue their careers in communities all across the country.”