The Benson and Princeton Police Departments are the recipients of a Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services COPS Hiring Program grant. The Department of Justice announced Tuesday nearly $400 million in grant funding nationwide to 596 law enforcement agencies to hire 2,732 additional full-time law enforcement officers.
The Benson Police Department was awarded $124,540 to hire one additional officer. The Princeton Police Department was awarded $125,000. The grant will pay the salary and benefits of one officer at each department for three years. After three years, each town will pick up the cost.
Interim Benson Police Chief Greg Percy said, “We are grateful to have been awarded these funds, and we hope to use them to place a second SRO at our local schools. We are committed to maintaining a safe environment where our Benson area students can learn and prosper, and to providing them with role models they can follow. Our future leaders, business owners, and residents attend Benson Elementary and Benson Middle School now, and our department wants to help them reach all their goals and achieve great things.”
Chief Percy will present the COPS Grant to the Benson Town Board on June 9th for formal approval. Currently, Officer Erin Sinclair is the only school resource officer in Benson. If approved by the town board, M/Sgt. Whitman will become the second SRO.
“We wanted to add an additional position to the organization because Princeton is growing,” Princeton Chief of Police Tyrone Sutton said. “As the new I-42 corridor arrives years down the road, we anticipate much growth and our area will be expanding. We need adequate personnel to serve the citizens of Princeton.”
“I applaud the work of the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) and their efforts to fund additional police officers in my District,” said United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. “This grant is timely and will assist agencies to increase their community policing efforts that will build better relationships between law enforcement and those they serve.”
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.
43 percent of the awards announced Tuesday 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.