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Sacramento city and county were awarded a total of $19.4 million in federal funding grants Wednesday – enough to put 25 police officers and 25 sheriff’s deputies back to work for the next three years.
The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program is a competitive grant program through the U.S. Department of Justice that provides funding to state and local law enforcement agencies to hire, rehire, or retain police officers.
This year, 2,712 law enforcement agencies requesting more than $2 billion to fund the hiring of 8,999 officers were considered for COPS Hiring Program funding, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Selection for awards was based on an applicant agency’s overall need for federal assistance, local crime rates, current commitment to community policing and their proposed community policing plan.
The Sacramento Sheriff’s Department received an award of $11,306,450 – the largest single award in the nation under the COPS program this year.
The Sacramento Police Department received $8.1 million in grant funds. It is the largest COPS grant the city has received in the three years that Sacramento has been selected for an award, and was the third highest COPS grant awarded in the nation this year.
Each grant provides funding for the salaries and benefits of officer positions for three years, with the requirement that agencies maintain the positions for one additional year at the end of the grant funding period.
The Sheriff’s Department grant will fill 25 deputy positions, department spokesman Jason Ramos said Wednesday. Those deputies will be assigned to a new youth and gang violence unit in Sacramento county.
Sheriff Scott Jones said in a press release Wednesday that his department plans to take a “comprehensive approach” to combating youth and gang violence by expanding enforcement efforts of gang unit detectives, adding a school component with school resource officers and partnering with youth-focused community organizations.
“It feels like Christmas in September,” Mayor Kevin Johnson said in a press release Wednesday, referring to the $8.1 million grant award to the Sacramento Police Department.
Huge budget cuts to the police department forced the city to lay off 46 sworn officers in July. The new COPS grant will allow the city to rehire 25 of those officers.
Representatives for the police department and the Sacramento Police Officers Association could not be reached for comment.
"We had to watch officers turn their badges in for the first time in our city's history,” Johnson said. “Now we have an opportunity to pin those badges back on our officers and get them back on the street."
Johnson declared the award “a big win” for Sacramento and emphasized that public safety must continue to be the top priority for the city.
Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) called the grants “wonderful news” for Sacramento residents in a statement released Thursday.
“This federal funding will strengthen our community’s law enforcement’s ability to keep us safe, and ensure that budgetary shortfalls do not eliminate these critical positions,” Matsui said.
Only 238 of the 2,712 grant requests were ultimately funded – roughly 9 percent of the total number of applications – for a total of $243,398,709 in grants, funding 1,021 officer positions nationwide.
In all, the Sacramento region – including $19.4 million for Sacramento city and county and a $2.58 million award for Placer county – was awarded the largest combined dollar amount in the nation.
Grant funds will be available to the Sacramento Police Department after the City Council formally accepts the grant at the next council meeting.
The Sheriff’s Department grant is expected to receive formal acceptance by the County Board of Supervisors in early October.
Melissa Corker is a Staff Reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.