WARREN - A city official hopes Friday's announcement by the U.S. Attorney's Office of a $250,000 Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant will strengthen the Warren Police Department on many fronts.
Warren Safety-Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa said the money will initially be used to pay for two school resource officers already in place, but ultimately the grant frees up funding for two additional patrol officers.
"We're extreme-ly pleased because of the flexibility from a payroll standpoint this grant gives the department," Cantalamessa said. "In the long run, this will strengthen our patrols."
The money is part of $6.8 million the U.S. Department of Justice gave to fight crime in Northern Ohio.
The city will conduct a civil service eligibility exam in the first part of 2014, according to Cantalamessa, after which new patrol officers will be hired.
"The main thing this enables us to do is be more proactive with our policing," Cantalamessa said. "Much like our Street Crimes Unit we've been doing, we want to be less reactive and more proactive."
The city's Street Crimes Unit began operation in July, dealing with everything from drugs to violent crimes.
The Warren Police Department roster currently stands at 61 plus the chief. The grant includes three years of salary and benefits for officers.
Austintown also received a $250,000 COPS grant to hire two officers.
In addition to the COPS money, the Northern Ohio Violent Crime Consortium (NOVCC) was awarded $500,000 for data analysts and improved technology. NOVCC is made up of the eight largest departments in Northern Ohio - Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Elyria, Lorain, Mansfield, Toledo and Youngstown - and is engaged in intelligence-led policing efforts.
"Today, the Justice Department is proud to support the brave and innovative men and women fighting and preventing crime in Northern Ohio," Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said in a news release announcing the funding.
"For people listening to those who would indiscriminately shrink or simply shut down the federal government, today's grants, which support cops on the street and crucial crime prevention, is a reminder of the valuable role the federal government plays," he continued.
Overall the COPS Office funded awards to 263 cities and counties, aimed at creating 937 law enforcement positions. More than $125 million will be awarded nationally, including nearly $45 million to fund 356 new school resource officer positions, the release states.
Grantees for the 2013 hiring program were selected based on their fiscal needs, local crime rates, and their community policing plans. There was an additional focus this year on agencies requesting assistance in developing school safety programs that would include the hiring of a school resource officer, according to the release.
The COPS Office is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1995, COPS has awarded more than $14 billion toward that cause.