The Justice Department gave more than $77 million in stimulus funds this year to 200 police agencies because of their locations rather than economic or crime-fighting needs, reports USA Today. The program to help law enforcement agencies hire more officers is required under a 1994 law to distribute money to every state where police or sheriff departments apply for aid, regardless of how urgent their need. Some of the largest police agencies complain that they got shortchanged despite more severe crime problems and economic troubles than many recipients.
The requirement to distribute money broadly prompted the National Sheriffs’ Association to call for a “re-examination” of the criteria. It contends the rule funded just 6.4 percent of sheriff applicants, compared with 16.7 percent of police agencies, says the NSA’s Ann Yom. In Houston, where increasing assaults nudged up violent crime in 2008, Police Chief Harold Hurtt feels “overlooked.” He requested money for 260 officers but got nothing despite a Justice Department score of 90.4. That topped agencies that qualified because they were the only applicants in their state, including Boise, 58.5; Cheyenne, 46.8; Honolulu, 81.3; and Omaha, 84.7.