DPD seeks more cops through COPS grant

Published 11:17 pm Friday, April 10, 2009

In tough economic times, city departments have to find creative ways to use the limited funds provided in their budgets or to enhance their departments through other means.

Demopolis police chief Tommie Reese is applying for a federal grant to add up to seven officers to the police force. The Community-Oriented Policing Services (COPS) federal grant will pay 100 percent of the salaries for officers for three years, and the city has to agree to pay the salaries for a fourth year. After the fourth year, the city has the option to fully hire the new officers.

The COPS program was created by Title I of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. It awards grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies throughout the United States so they can hire and train law enforcement officers to participate in community policing, purchase and deploy new crime-fighting technologies and develop and test new and innovative policing strategies.

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“We are applying for seven new officers for the police department,” Reese said.

“We hope to get this grant approved. The deadline is April 14 to be sent in, so right now, we are working to be sure that everything is correct.”

Reese said that not long ago, there were more than 19,000 applications for the COPS grant.

“The e-mail we got from [COPS representatives] said that they are not looking at first come, first served,” Reese said. “It said that they were looking for accuracy, so that’s why I’m taking the time to make sure ours is accurate.”

Reese said there are other determining factors in being approved for the grant.

“They look at the programs that you’re putting in place,” he said. “They also look at how you plan on spending the money and how it would stimulate the economy.

“I plan on trying to put at least one more resource officer in the school under this program, another investigator, a community crime prevention person, a community relations person within the department, and to add four patrol officers to the streets.”

Reese said that agencies around the state have laid off some officers or given them furlough or cut their hours back.

“Fortunately, Demopolis has not had to face that, thank God,” he said.

“I just don’t think of public safety as a luxury; it’s a necessity.”

Reese said he expected to get a response to his grant application by November.