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Nearly 200 law enforcement agencies will get financial assistance to bring on around 900 entry-level officers, many focused on community engagement.
Law enforcement agencies around the nation will receive a combined $119 million in federal grant funding for hiring and retaining officers, according to the U.S Department of Justice.
This money will flow to 184 state and local agencies and will go toward the cost of about 900 entry-level career law enforcement officer positions. The funding was awarded through the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, Hiring Program.
Of the grant recipients, 62 plan to put the money they were awarded toward positions focused on “community engagement,” according to a list the Justice Department issued Monday.
Another 34 agencies plan to use the money for school resource officer programs.
Some of the other grant-supported positions are set to concentrate on gun violence prevention, improving law enforcement transparency and police department diversification efforts.
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced the grant awards in Dallas on Monday, during what President Barack Obama has designated National Community Policing Week.
That event comes at a time of intense national debate about the relationships police departments have with poor and minority communities. And as fatal shootings by police officers have sparked periodic demonstrations in cities throughout the nation.
In July, near the end of one such protest that had been otherwise peaceful, a military veteran shot and killed five police officers in Dallas, wounding seven others and two civilians.
Dallas was awarded the fifth-largest amount of money announced on Monday: about $3.1 million to help pay for 25 officers who will work on community engagement issues.
Hartford, Connecticut, was allotted the largest sum, getting roughly $3.5 million for 15 officers who will concentrate on tamping down gun violence. The smallest grant, $69,208, is to help defray the expense of one school resource officer for the police department in Dewar, Oklahoma.
Between April and June, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services received grant applications from 1,181 law enforcement agencies, with requests totalling about $402,471,327.
Awardees were selected through a competitive process, with special consideration given to agencies requesting funds for positions geared toward community trust-building activities.
Under the grant program’s requirements, and barring any waivers, the awarded federal money can be used to cover as much as 75 percent of an officer’s salary and benefits, up to $125,000.
Bill Lucia is a Reporter for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.