Federal Grant Helps Recruit Local Officers
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - We have told you about the shortage of police officers in the County and around the Country. Recruiting efforts are ongoing to fill the vacancies.
“The COPS grant is a three-year grant and we put in for three positions cause that was the need for the county. We needed three more deputies on the road to alleviate the pressure we were feeling. We had some PDs that were closing or … Ya’ know Van Buren closed the doors so us and the State Police were left to cover Van Buren.” says Shawn Gillen, Aroostook County Sheriff.
The Community Oriented Policing Services or “COPS” grant is a federal grant that was created with the purpose of hiring, rehiring, and training law enforcement officers. The Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office applied for the grant in 2021 and was awarded $125,000 a year for the next three years.
“You put three new bodies on the road, that’s three cruisers, that’s three new uniforms, guns, training, you’re talking, not just wages. It’s a, it’s a big burden, it’s a big burden for taxpayers, big burden for the Sheriff’s Office. Luckily, we’re fully staffed right now.” added Gillen.
“The Ashland Police Department also received the grant and that allowed them to hire a new officer at a fraction of the cost, which is 75% that the federal government pays 25% we pay in on the total program years.” said Cyr Martin, Ashland Police Chief and Town Manager
Martin said that over the years there have been changes to the percentage of funding, but every little bit helps.
“I remember a long time ago because I’ve been in this for some time now. It used to be 100% and then they went to 75 and now they kinda topped it off which is still a great program, whether it’s a 100 or not it’s still helping us out.” added Martin.
The grant process is very competitive with a limited number given each year. The County received two thirds of the grants awarded in the State this year and it is paying dividends, helping put more police on patrol and limiting the cost to the department.
“There were six positions total in Maine, and we got three of them so that’s a total of $375,000 over the next three years for those three deputies so it will certainly help with the budget.” continued Gillen.
Nationwide over 183 law enforcement agencies have been awarded the grants this year.
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