The Akron Police Department will add 12 officers thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice designed to aid veterans.
Officials announced Monday that Akron received $1.5 million in Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) funding to add to its 418-officer force.
Canton received $821,000 for seven officers. Toledo was given $1.87 million for 15 officers, Youngstown received $727,000 to add seven officers and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office will add eight deputies with its $1 million grant.
“These grants underscore the Justice Department’s commitment to our region,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “This money will put more officers on the street to help combat guns, crimes, illegal drugs and all the other threats to our neighborhoods.”
The federal dollars come through a new program to hire recently returned military veterans. The program requires that all new officers hired with grant funds have served at least 180 days of active military service, any part of which occurred on or after Sept. 11, 2001.
More than $111 million is being awarded to more than 220 cities and counties.
The grants provide 75 percent funding for approved entry-level salaries and benefits for three years, or for rehired officers who have been laid off or are scheduled to be laid off on a future date as a result of local budget cuts.
“These grants are a critical investment in the men and women who devote their lives to protecting Ohioans — both as members of our armed forces and as law enforcement officers,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said.
Council President Marco Sommerville announced Akron’s grant during Monday’s council meeting, garnering applause from the audience.
“With our budget constraints, we were pleased by the federal government’s announcement,” Sommerville said.
Mayor Don Plusquellic, who lobbied federal officials and worked with Brown on the grants, is hoping the city will be able to hire more than 12 officers in the coming year. He said city officials will examine Akron’s budget and look ahead to next year to try to determine how many additional officers can be supported.
Akron applied for COPS funding for 21 officers.
Plusquellic said the federal grant’s target of veterans could conflict with civil service rules.
“I’m thinking we will take the money, hire more people and hope for the best,” he said.
Plusquellic said there was speculation that Vice President Joe Biden might come to Akron to announce the grant awards. Biden also had been scheduled to visit Hamilton in southern Ohio on Monday, but canceled the stop. He instead announced the grant awards in a call with the media.