The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is funneling money to the ailing federal Community Oriented Policing Services program and the Hiring Recovery Program, and will soon be available to the city of Jackson.
About $1 billion in federal grant funding will be available for the hiring and rehiring of additional police officers all cross the nation. The grants require no matching funds from municipalities and will finance entry-level salaries and benefits for four years for newly-hired, full-time sworn officer positions, and for filling unfunded positions or rehiring officers who were laid offor slated to be laid off this yeardue to city budget constraints.
Attorney General Jim Hood said there is no cap on the number of positions an agency may request, with the only limit being the availability of federal funding.
Grant applications available through the U.S. Department of Justice will be available on-line at the COPS Web site beginning March 16. Applications must be submitted within a month.
Hood said his office would be providing assistance in helping city and county governments apply for the grants.
"I see the president's economic stimulus package creating hundreds of crucial jobs in law enforcement in Mississippi," Hood said.
Even though the federal funds require no match, the local government using the funds must agree to pay new law enforcement officers' salaries for the fifth year.
Former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., used COPS grant money to hire police officers during his administration, though the city lost track of some federal grant money allocated to the city's police department last year and had to send it back to the federal government during the Melton administration.
Hood still praised the financial influx: "Security is the cornerstone for economic development. Five years of sustained additional law enforcement forces in Jackson would give the seeds of economic development time to flourish and ameliorate the environment in which criminals attach."
Rich Roberts, spokesman for the International Union of Police Associations, said the COPS grants program flourished under the administration of Democrat President Bill Clinton, but floundered under that of Republican President George Bush.
"Under Clinton and (Attorney General) Janet Reno, the COPS program was superb," Roberts said. "Back when I was with the North Beach Police Department (Maryland) the county sheriff came to me and said he needed more deputies. I made one phone call to COPS in D.C. Within days we had all the appropriate paperwork and within a month we had approval. But the Bush administration just gutted the program. Their excuse was we succeeded in the program's objective of hiring 100,000 officers and we're done."
For more information on the program, please visit the COPS Office Web site (cops.usdoj.gov), or call the COPS Office Response Center at 1-800-421-6770.