In an effort to improve public safety and ease the strain on local budgets, U.S. Senator Jack Reed is encouraging local law enforcement departments in Rhode Island to apply for federal funding available under the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program. The application period for the competitive 2013 COPS Hiring Program is now open.
Administered by the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services Office, the COPS Hiring Program grants provide up to 75% in funding for salaries and benefits for three years for newly-hired, full-time officers, including filling existing unfunded vacancies, or for rehired police officers who were laid off as a result of local budget cuts.
"Our police officers do an outstanding job, and I am committed to ensuring they have the resources and manpower they need to keep our communities safe. I encourage communities across Rhode Island to apply for these competitive grants and take advantage of this opportunity to help fill vacancies with new officers and hire experienced veterans," said Reed, who helped create the COPS program in the 1990s and serves on the Appropriations subcommittee which oversees COPS funding.
Over the years, Rhode Island has received more than $48 million in COPS grants and local police departments across the state have hired more than 415 new police officers with support from federal COPS funding.
Earlier this year during debate over the continuing resolution (CR) extension, Reed successfully fought to increase federal funding for COPS grants. As a result, the COPS Hiring grant program will award up to $165 million nationwide in federal funding for Fiscal Year 2013 to help create and preserve jobs and increase community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts.
The COPS Hiring Program requires that each position awarded be retained with local funds for a minimum of 1 year at the conclusion of 3 years of federal funding for each position. This year, there are some key changes to the program that will give additional consideration to departments that request COPS Hiring Program funding to hire either school resource officers or military veterans and those targeting efforts to help reduce violent crime, especially gun violence and homicides.
Since 2009, eight different communities in Rhode Island have received nearly $10 million in federal COPS Hiring grants, including:
Central Falls: $426,664
Narragansett Indian Tribe: $133,989
West Warwick: $125,000