Macon to get $1.7M for police positions

Macon will be awarded $1.7 million in federal stimulus money to hire or rehire 14 police officers, the White House announced Tuesday.

According to Vice President Biden’s office, the funds will provide 100 percent of the approved salary and benefits for these officers for three years. Police departments receiving the money will then be required to retain the grant-funded positions for a fourth year.

“We’re glad,” said Andrew Blascovich, Mayor Robert Reichert’s director of external affairs. “It’s something that helps us keep staffing levels up in the police department. ... It’s a great opportunity to improve public safety in Macon and have federal assistance.”

The police department applied for the grant in the spring, Blascovich said. At the time, it asked for funding for 16 officers. Blascovich said the money will help the city’s long-term planning of its police staffing levels. He said requirements that the city begin funding the positions in the fourth year should present no problem.

Grants are being offered to 1,046 law enforcement agencies across all 50 states, including more than $31 million to fund 184 law enforcement officers in Georgia, the White House announced. Also on the list to pick up money are the cities of Dublin, East Dublin and Eastman, which will receive about $418,900, $119,700 and $115,000, respectively.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants will be administered by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services through the federal agency’s COPS Hiring Recovery Program. The Justice Department received more than 7,200 applications for 39,000 officer positions — a total of $8.3 billion in requested funding.

“A big part of the Recovery Act is about building communities — making them as strong as they can be, allowing every American family to live a better life than the one they are leading now,” Biden said. “And we can’t achieve the goal of stronger communities without supporting those who keep our streets safe.”

To contact writer Matt Barnwell, call 744-4251.