Today, Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) announced that the Merced Police Department has been awarded $1,100,396 to hire four new officers and the Ceres Department of Public Safety has been awarded $289,254 to hire one officer. The federal funding was awarded through the FY12 Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program, a competitive grant program that provides funding directly to law enforcement agencies to help create and preserve jobs and to increase their community policing capacity and support crime-prevention efforts.
"Local law enforcement agencies continue to suffer from budget shortfalls, and these grants give local police departments the flexibility to hire additional officers," said Congressman Cardoza. "The safety of our communities depends on our police departments having the resources they need to recruit and retain the best officers. I am proud to support these grants and other federal funding to help them meet these goals."
A unique change for the 2012 program, called "Vets to Cops," requires that all new officers hired under the grant must be military veterans that have served at least 180 days of active military service, at least partly on or after September 11, 2001. While veterans may come from different military occupations, the skills acquired through service often complement the requirements needed to ensure a successful law enforcement career.
Merced Chief of Police Norman Andrade commented, "We are very pleased to hear that the Merced Police Department has been awarded $1.1 million to help fund four police officers over the next three years. On behalf of the City of Merced and the Merced Police Department, we would like to extend our sincere appreciation and thanks to Congressman Cardoza for his hard work in lobbying for these funds on our behalf."
Art DeWerk, Director of the Ceres Department of Public Safety remarked, "This is an outstanding opportunity that comes to the City of Ceres at a very good time when our public safety budget is maximally stressed and police officer positions are critically needed. We owe a debt of gratitude to Congressman Dennis Cardoza for his unwavering support for the public safety needs of not just the City of Ceres, but the entire district."
The COPS grants announced today will provide 75 percent funding for approved entry-level salaries and benefits for three years (36 months) for newly-hired, full-time sworn officer positions (including filling existing unfunded vacancies) or for rehired officers who have been laid off, or are scheduled to be laid off on a future date, as a result of local budget cuts, up to $125,000.
Congressman Cardoza has been an ardent supporter of the COPS program throughout his career in Congress and voted numerous times to continue funding the program. The COPS program supports numerous local law enforcement initiatives including: community policing development, methamphetamine enforcement, law enforcement technologies, the "secure our schools" program, and child sexual predator elimination programs. Established in the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, the COPS program has provided more than $11 billion in assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies.