GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - A $1 billion stimulus for law enforcement agencies allows for the hiring or re-hiring of more than 4,500 officers nationwide but while one Western Slope agency is benefiting from the funds another didn’t get what it asked for.
Cities all over the U.S. are cutting back budgets, even when it comes to public safety. With that in mind, the Obama Administration has approved a $1 billion stimulus for law enforcement agencies all over the country. It's all part of the $787 billion stimulus package approved earlier this year. It allows the hiring or re–hiring of more than 4,500 officers nationwide.
The Grand Junction Police Department has five positions they can now fill thanks to the grant money from the COPS – Hiring Recovery Program. The federal funds will help the GJPD fill positions left open by resignations, retirement and other departmental attrition.
"Our public safety positions and police officer positions were a priority for the city to fill and we're thankful we were awarded the grants so we could do that," says Sgt. Dave Krouse of the Grand Junction Police Department.
Grand Junction is one of 13 Colorado cities to receive the grant money. It got more than $1.3 million. That's more than any other Colorado city.
In total, $1 billion for law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. was awarded this summer.
According to the Associated Press, 7,000 state and local agencies asked for grant money, but only 1,000 got it.
One of the cities left off the Colorado list? Fruita.
But, Fruita Chief of Police Mark Angelo says their request for one officer position is still pending with the COPS program, and might be approved during a second wave of funds that could go through in 2010.
He says at the time he filled out the grant, he knew the money would first go to save jobs that were lost, and at that time they were fully staffed. However, Fruita PD remains optimistic that they’ll get money to fill the position next year.
In the meantime, Grand Junction says it's thankful for the funds it got, and will continue its extensive recruitment process.
"We're looking for four more police officer positions, currently certified or police officers who work at another agency and want to transfer to this agency," says Krouse. He adds that there are many reasons why an officer would want to join their team.
"We have great leadership, great camaraderie among the police officers. And what a great community we live in. I can't think of a better selling point for people wanting to move here. We're one of the best agencies in the state. Especially on this side of the state," he says.
Krouse adds one reason why he thinks Grand Junction qualified for the funds was because they have talented grant writers who were able to effectively state their needs.