Pell City Chief of Police Greg Turley said the grant will allow the police department to continue having two school resource officers in Pell City schools.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Turley said.
He said the COPS hiring program will help fund the salaries and benefits for two officers for the next three years.
“It’s a step in the right direction in having safer schools,” Turley said, but added that having resource officers in schools is more than just about protection. “It’s going to mean a lot to our kids.”
He said the grant comes at a time when budgets are tight.
Turley said the police department applied for the grant twice before.
“I guess the third time was the charm,” he said. “We are a growing community, and we want to grow with the community.”
Turley said the grant amount is $223,626. The city’s match to the grant is $74,542.
U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance said that $3.8 million in law enforcement hiring grants was awarded, including about $1 million in the Northern District of Alabama.
“In the wake of past tragedies, it’s clear that we need to be willing to take all possible steps to ensure that our kids are safe when they go to school,” Holder said in a press release. “These critical investments represent the Justice Department’s latest effort to strengthen key law enforcement capabilities, and to provide communities with the resources they need to protect our young people. Especially in a time of increased challenges and limited budgets, our top priority must always be the safety and well-being of our children.”
Grantees for the 2013 hiring programs 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.
Turley said Pell City’s grant applications were rejected in past years because of low crime rates.
“I want to especially thank Mayor (Joe) Funderburg and the City Council for supporting our schools and police department,” Turley said. “Council President (James) McGowan and City Manager Patrick Draper spearheaded the need for greater SRO resources in our schools, and Louise Campbell, as always, did an outstanding job on the grant.”
Campbell is the grant writer for the city.
PCPD may use the grant to hire new officers or rehire officers who were laid off or who are scheduled to be laid off on a specific future date as a result of local budget cuts.