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September 1, 2014, 5:25 pm

City gets grant for more cops

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was in Philadelphia on Monday with Mayor Michael Nutter to announce the awarding of a Justice Department grant that would put additional police officers on the city’s streets.

Philadelphia was one of 220 cities and counties to receive a Community Oriented Policing Services or COPS grant. The grant of $3.125 million will partially fund salaries and benefits of 25 police officers through a three-year period. In addition, the officers must be individuals who are military veterans who have served their country for a minimum of 180 days since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“The recipients of the Community Oriented Policing Services hiring awards will strengthen law enforcement agencies across the country,” Holder said. “There are 220 cities and counties that will divide $111 billion dollars that will create and save jobs for police officers across the country. Two hundred will be saved from layoffs, and the new officers that are hired are military veterans — 600 of them have served abroad.”

In 2009, Holder was in Philadelphia announcing a similar grant that helped Philadelphia put 50 additional police officers on the streets to fight crime. Last Friday, the Philadelphia Police Academy graduated it 360th class of 30 new police officers, who will be serving in some of the city’s most crime troubled neighborhoods.

“Boots on the ground are part of the answer to keeping our communities safe. Officers on the beat are a welcome presence and if it’s done right, indispensible in making community policing a reality. The Department of Justice’s COPS grant will help Philadelphia to hire highly qualified, committed officers who will work in the neighborhoods that need their presence the most,” said Nutter. “This COPS grant will help the city improve public safety, lower the crime rate and continue the policies that work. I would like to thank our congressional delegation, Attorney General Holder, Director Melekian and the entire team at the Department of Justice for choosing to invest in the Philadelphia Police Department.”

Holder said that the $111 billion is being awarded nationally to local public safety agencies across the country. The list of this year’s grantees includes Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pa.; Chicago, Ill.; Boston, Mass.; Atlanta, Ga.; Trenton, N.J.; Alameda County and Los Angeles, Calif.; Akron, Ohio; and Tacoma, Wash. The COPS Office will work with Veteran Affairs transition service centers across the country to connect veterans with the new grant-funded law enforcement opportunities.

“This new opportunity for veterans is a commitment to support those who are coming home from their tour of duty,” said Bernard Melekian, COPS office director. “We sincerely hope this effort encourages our veterans to continue to protect and serve the United States through new law enforcement careers.”

The Community Oriented Policing Services Office came into being in 1994. That year, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act passed the House and Senate. The measure put in place an $8.8 billion dollar financial expenditure over a six-year period and the COPS office was created to disburse and monitor the money.

“As the ranking member of the Appropriations subcommittee, overseeing the Department of Justice COPS program is one of my highest priorities,” said U.S. state Representative Chaka Fattah. “This national program will provide $111 billion to municipalities across the country, $3.125 million to Philadelphia specifically, bridging the gap between tight budgets and the need for a robust police force. Making communities safer is a responsibility that must be shared by all levels of government, and I’m pleased that Philadelphia is receiving this funding.”

The COPS Office is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1995, COPS has awarded more than $12 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of about 124,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products, including publications, training and technical assistance.

“As a proud supporter of the COPS Hiring Program and the Community Policing Program, I know that our city will be safer because of the new officers this grant will help Philadelphia hire. This competitively awarded grant confirms what Philadelphians all know. The men and women of the Philadelphia police department are among America’s best. It also shows the faith that national leadership has in Mayor Nutter, Commissioner Ramsey and the direction they have taken the department,” said U.S. Rep. Bob Brady.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said it was a privilege to hire returning veterans, many of whom have had difficulty finding work after their military service has ended.

“The bottom line is that police matter. Our partnership with the COPS office has always been very strong, and we are extremely grateful for its support,” Ramsey said. “Our federal partners know that local police are vital to the health and growth of our cities. It is a privilege to be able to hire returning vets and enlist them into our crime fighting mission here in the Philadelphia Police Department.”