Council approves new officers through COPS grant

The COPS Hiring Program is awarded to only 23 law enforcement agencies in the state

By Molly Davis
Redlands Daily Facts

REDLANDS, Calif. — The city's streets may get a little safer, thanks to a $1.7 million grant the city received to hire four new police officers.

At their Nov. 1 meeting, the City Council unanimously approved accepting the grant.

However, the terms of the grant gave some council members and residents pause.

The COPS Hiring Program, a highly competitive grant awarded to only 23 law enforcement agencies in the state, pays for four officers for 36 months, or three years, at a cost of $1,711,616, including benefits but not overtime.

The catch is, at theof the 36 months, the city must continue to fund all four positions for another year, at a total of $666,282.

The contract does have a clause, however, that allows the city exemption if there is an unreasonable financial hardship on the city that staff can prove.

The police department currently has four officers funded by a similar grant, whose positions must be paid for out of general funds during the 2012-13 fiscal year.

"This is a great opportunity for us to strengthen our department," Redlands Police Chief Mark Garcia said.

One resident, Arlen Einertson, expressed his concern about the city's ability to pay for the officers at theof the contract's term.

"If we need police officers, let's budget it and pay for it," he said.

The staff report noted that in the past several years, the department has been reduced from 98 to 77 officers. Garcia said the general fund budget allows for 70 officers now, with one opening.

"I view this in context of the contract," Mayor Pete Aguilar said. "I see some potential for flexibility. This is an opportunity for us to continue to be thoughtful in our budgeting."

Councilman Jerry Bean agreed, noting he saw "sufficient outs" in the contract.

Mayor Pro Tem Paul Foster added that with the state's prisoner reentry movement coming, this puts the city in a better position to handle the situation.

"We've been chosen because of our track record," to receive the award, Aguilar said. "We'll continue to avail ourselves of the opportunity."

Copyright 2011 Los Angeles Newspaper Group


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