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$243M in COPS Hiring Grants Awarded

More than 200 law enforcement agencies across the country received some welcome news on Wednesday.

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The DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) announced more than $243 million in hiring grants awarded to 238 law enforcement agencies.

The funds will be used to hire or rehire more than a thousand officers and deputies.

The competitive grant program provides 100 percent funding for the entry-level salaries and benefits of newly-hired or rehired, full-time officer positions over a three-year period.

After the three-year period, the cities and municipalities will be required to pay for the officers on their own and maintain the number of positions acquired through the grant or risk being deemed ineligible for the program in the future.

Close to three thousand applications were received for the 2011 COPS Hiring Program, requesting more than $2 billion and close to nine thousand positions.

Decisions were based on crime rates, changes in budgets and other data.

"Cities across the country are dealing with numerous challenges and we are pleased to be able to assist their public safety efforts," COPS Director Bernard Melekian said in a statement.

"Creating and maintaining jobs is a key part of this program. This funding helps support local departments in their efforts to increase their ranks, enhance their relationship with the community and directly address their public safety concerns."

Over the years, COPS helped fund the hiring and redeployment of approximately 120,000 officers.

Roughly $20 million was awarded to 12 hard-hit New Jersey towns that will be getting some much needed help.

Newark and Camden will receive half of the of the 78 positions the grants will bring to the state.

Newark will be able to rehire 25 officers after being forced to lay off 150 late last year.

"I'm extremely happy to get any officers back," Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio told the Star-Ledger. "Obviously we were hoping for the maximum possibility, which would have been 50, but it’s a great thing for us to have 25 officers coming back on the job especially with our new holiday plan and the holiday season coming up."

Camden, which had already secured state and federal money to bring back 74 of the 168 officers axed in January, will be able to fund 14 positions with the COPS grant.

"That is absolutely outstanding, that's the best news I heard today," said John Williamson, president of Camden's Fraternal Order of Police, told the newspaper. "Let me tell you, we could use every single boot on the ground and officer we can get."

The Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento Sheriff's Department will each be able to fund 25 positions through the grant program.

The city laid off 42 officers just three months ago, according to The Sacramento Bee.

Other cities and municipalities awarded funding for 25 positions -- the highest number of positions awarded this time around -- include Tucson, L.A. County, Oakland, Miami, Lexington (Ky.), Detroit, Jackson (Miss), Cleveland, Cincinnati and Houston.