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Justice Department Awards $20.9 Million to Hire Community Cops in Florida’s Middle District

Police LIghts | Public Safety | First Responder

The Pasco County sheriff and the police departments in St. Petersburg and Bradenton will receive money from the overall award.

TAMPA – U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announced Wednesday (June 3) that the Department of Justice had awarded $20,875,000 in grant funding to 14 law enforcement agencies throughout the Middle District of Florida.

The funds, which will come from the department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services COPS Hiring Program will allow for the hiring of 167 additional full-time law enforcement officers.

Three departments in Tampa Bay will receive money from the grants. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office will receive $3.75 million; the St. Petersburg Police Department, $3.125 million; and the Bradenton Police Department, $375,000.

“Community policing is an effective tool in reducing crime in our neighborhoods, building relationships of mutual trust and accountability, and implementing successful prevention and intervention strategies,” Chapa Lopez said. “We are eager to continue working with our partner agencies, our community, and our citizens in this collective problem solving strategy to improve public safety.”

The COPS Hiring Program is a competitive award program intended to reduce crime and advance public safety through community policing by providing direct funding for the hiring of career law enforcement officers. In addition to providing financial support for hiring, CHP provides funding to state, local, and tribal law enforcement to enhance local community policing strategies and tactics. In a changing economic climate, CHP funding helps law enforcement agencies maintain sufficient sworn personnel levels to promote safe communities. Funding through this program had been on hold since the spring of 2018 due to a nationwide injunction that was lifted earlier this year.

U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr previously announced funding awards to 596 law enforcement agencies across the nation, which allows those agencies to hire 2,732 additional full-time law enforcement professionals. The awards are inclusive of the $51 million announced in May as part of Operation Relentless Pursuit.

“The Department of Justice is committed to providing the police chiefs and sheriffs of our great nation with needed resources, tools, and support. The funding announced today will bolster their ranks and contribute to expanding community policing efforts nationwide,” Barr said. “A law enforcement agency’s most valuable assets are the men and women who put their lives on the line every day in the name of protecting and serving their communities.”

CHP applicants were required to identify a specific crime and disorder problem focus area and explain how the funding will be used to implement community policing approaches to that problem focus area. 43 percent of the awards announced today will focus on violent crime, while the remainder of the awards will focus on a variety of issues including school-based policing to fund school resource officer positions, building trust and respect, and opioid education, prevention, and intervention.  The COPS Office received nearly 1,100 applications requesting more than 4,000 law enforcement positions.

The complete list of awards can be found here. To learn more about CHP, go to cops.usdoj.gov/chp . For additional information about the COPS Office, go to cops.usdoj.gov.

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