A Scioto County police department will receive new federal funds from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to hire recently-returned military veterans through the new "Vets to COPS" program. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that the Portsmouth Police Department will receive $327,244 through the COPS Hiring Program (CHP) to hire two law enforcement officers. According to DOJ, CHP provides funding to address the full-time sworn officer needs of state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies nationwide. CHP grants go directly to law enforcement agencies to hire new and/or rehire career law enforcement officers in an effort to increase their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts.
"Too many police departments across our state have had to lay off police officers due to budget challenges, while too many recently-returned veterans have struggled to find work. We know that safe communities depend on the expertise of well-trained law enforcement officers. These funds will enable the Portsmouth Police Department to hire a highly-trained, dedicated public servant to keep our streets safe," Brown said. "These grants are a critical investment in the men and women who devote their lives to protecting Ohioans--both as a member of our Armed Forces and as a law enforcement officers."
The Justice Department has announced a unique change for the 2012 program, "Vets to Cops," requiring that all new officers hired under the grant must be military veterans that have served at least 180 days of active military service, any part of which occurred on or after September 11, 2001. The grants 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.
In November, the Senate passed and the President signed into law the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, which included another piece of legislation cosponsored by Brown--the Hiring Heroes Act--that aims to ensure that all servicemembers transitioning to civilian life receive the job training skills they need to find employment. A key provision of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 includes tax credits to companies that hire unemployed veterans.