St. Petersburg, Fl., residents clamoring for more police officers on neighborhood streets could soon get their way, says the St. Petersburg Times. Police Chief Chuck Harmon has applied for a $2 million federal grant that would pay for 10 police officers and fund a full-time community policing program. A grant under the new federal stimulus law would save five police positions that are slated to be eliminated because of budget cuts. The city would then add five officers to the department’s work force, bringing the total to 545.
More than 5,600 communities nationwide applied as of early Tuesday. Up to $1 billion in federal stimulus money is available. The deadline to apply was Tuesday night. “We will be paying attention to the local economy, what’s the economic situation for the agencies that are applying, do they have hiring freezes, are there layoffs, big reductions in revenues,” said Corey Ray, a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department. “We will also look at crime rates and agencies that have a strong retention plan.” On average, local governments asked for funding to pay for five officers.