The Justice Department expects to announce within two weeks grants to hire about 5,000 local police officers nationwide under a $1 billion program in the new federal economic stimulus law, says Dave Buchanan, acting director of the federal COPS Office. Buchanan told criminal justice organizations at a meeting Friday in Washington, D.C., that the grants amount to only a small fraction of the $8.3 billion requested by law enforcement agencies nationwide. The Obama administration has pledged to seek funds for 50,000 officers.
Congress required that half of the new officers be in jurisdictions with under 150,000 population. In judging the requests, COPS officials looked at local economic conditions, crime rates, and applicants' record in community policing, among other factors. To make sure that large departments didn't get a disproportionate share of officers, no agency will be funded for more than 50 officers or more than 5 percent of the total, Buchanan said. To ensure transparency, the COPS agency plans to post on the Web all of the applications and how they ranked in the selection process.