The Department of Justice is awarding nearly $400 million in grant funding for almost 600 state and local police departments to hire more officers as part of a federal community policing program, the U.S. Attorney General’s office announced Tuesday.
“The Department of Justice (DOJ) is committed to providing the police chiefs and sheriffs of our great nation with needed resources, tools and support,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement. “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.”
The funds will come from the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (also known as the COPS Office) and its associated hiring program.
The focus of the COPS Office is to enhance trust and mutual respect between law enforcement officers and the communities that they serve. Since the mid-1990s, the office says it has invested more than $14 billion in departments around the U.S. — but the latest round of funds from the long-standing program comes as communities across the country see protests and unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd, which happened while he was in police custody in Minneapolis.
In total, local law enforcement agencies will be able to hire up to 2,732 full-time officers with the funds, the DOJ said in a press release.
The COPS Office funding can also be used to help state and local departments improve their community policing strategies and to rehire laid-off officers.
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.
— Attorney General Bill Barr
The new officers will all have to pass a background check, according to the COPS Office.
Law enforcement agencies had to apply for the program and were required to show a specific crime problem in their community and explain how they would use the funding to address it through community policing.
More than 1,100 departments applied, and 596 were selected to receive grants this year.
The money will cover 75 percent of a new or rehired officer’s salary for three years.
Some of the departments receiving funding are in big cities such New York, which received more than $11 million for 100 officers; Cincinnati, with more than $10 million for 86 officers, and Houston, with more than $8 million for 71 officers.
Many smaller departments will receive grant money for a single officer.