City to apply for $9 million grant to hire new police officers

March 31, 2009

Akron City Council Monday night authorized the city to apply for a three-year, $9 million grant to hire 40 new Akron police officers.

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Justice COPS Hiring and Recovery Program, or CHRP, which allows local law enforcement agencies to hire new career law enforcement officers.

The grant application, which will be filed online, is due April 14. An Akron Police Department spokesperson said funds are expected to be released by the end of the summer.

The money will be used to fund a new academy to serve on the force for three years. While the city is not required to put up matching funds, the grant program stipulates that all officers hired under CHRP funding must be kept for at least one additional year after the grant expires.

When explaining the legislation, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic said the new hires will bring the police force to 506 uniformed officers, where the force was when the city last had full funding from the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program.

The ordinance was offered by Public Safety Committee Chair Jim Shealey (At Large), the mayor and Council as a whole. Shealey said its passage serves a dual purpose of job creation and enhancing city safety.

"This legislation provides the city the essential funding it needs to hire and train a new academy of police officers for stable, well-paying and rewarding jobs and increases the police department's capacity for better crime prevention efforts," Shealey said.

In other Council business, Council President Marco Sommerville asked City Law Director Max Rothal to address next week's Budget and Finance Committee to explain the increased overtime payouts the department requested for 2008.

"I know the department has been working very hard this past year," Sommerville said. "But we need to look at this and see if we can get a better handle on things."

The department will provide all details for overtime requests, including a total dollar amount requested for 2008, at the meeting. The Budget and Finance Committee, headed by Tina Merlitti (W-7), meets at 3 p.m. Monday, April 6, in Council Chambers.