The U.S. Department of Agriculture, known for its drought and disaster assistance to farmers, is providing hundreds of millions of dollars to cash-strapped towns and public safety agencies to buy police patrol cars, equip fire stations, and renovate courthouses, says USA Today. The agency’s Rural Community Facilities Program offers a mix of grants and loans to small communities across struggling in a difficult economy.
Since FY 2006, the program has doled out $770 million in public safety funding, including $39 million for 1,235 police cars and $120.5 million for 1,149 firetrucks. The funding is drawing new interest from financially stressed communities and as traditional sources of public safety aid — from the U.S. Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security— are being reduced. “The first time I heard of this program, I was surprised,” said Seneca Falls, N.Y., Police Chief Frederick Capozzi, who says “We’re all looking for money for training and equipment.”