SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Four law enforcement agencies in southwest Missouri learned Monday that they will receive federal funds to hire more officers. The grants are from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
Police departments in Forsyth, Highlandville, and Neosho, plus the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department in Nevada, will each receive money for one new officer. They’re among about 220 cities and counties across the country that will receive grants in 2012. No agencies in northwest Arkansas received grants.
The White House says those grants will fund more than 600 new law enforcement positions and save an additional 200 positions recently lost or in jeopardy of being cut due to local budget cuts. All new law enforcement positions funded in the COPS 2012 Hiring Program must be filled by recent military veterans who have served at least 180 days sinceSeptember 11, 2001.
The COPS Hiring Program makes grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire community policing officers. The program provides the salary and benefits for officer and deputy hires for three years. Along with the pledge to hire military veterans, grantees for the 2012 Hiring Program were selected based on fiscal need and local crime rates. An additional factor in the selection process was each agency’s strategy to address specific problems such as increased homicide rates and gun violence.
In his State of the Union Address in January, President Obama called for a new Veterans Jobs Corps initiative to help put veterans back to work on a range of projects that leverage skills developed in the military, including first responder jobs. In February, the president said preference for this year’s COPS and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants would be given to communities that recruit and hire post-9/11 veterans to serve as police officers and firefighters.
More than $111 million is being awarded to local public safety agencies across the country. The list of this year’s grantees includes Kansas City, Mo., Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Trenton, N.J., Alameda County, Calif., Los Angeles, Akron, Ohio, and Tacoma, Wash.
The COPS Office will work with transition centers across the country to connect veterans with the new grant-funded law enforcement opportunities.
The entire list of grantees and additional information about the 2012 COPS Hiring Program is at the COPS website.
“Today, we step up our support for recent veterans by offering them the chance to pursue meaningful careers in law enforcement,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. "At a time of budget shortfalls, these grants will provide opportunities for much-needed, highly-trained professionals – with a proven commitment to service - to continue their careers in communities all across the country.”
“This new opportunity for veterans is a commitment to support those who are coming home from their tour of duty,” said COPS Office Director Bernard Melekian. “We sincerely hope this effort encourages our veterans to continue to protect and serve the United States through new law enforcement careers.”