CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder visited Cincinnati Wednesday to announce a $6.8 million grant to the city's police department.
"We have a great relationship with the federal government in this respect," Mayor Mark Mallory said. "We have received COPS grants in the past and they have allowed us to prevent, avoid, delay, police layoffs."
"I'm feeling very confident now, now that we've got the grant that we should not have to lay off officers," city councilman Cecil Thomas said. "But again, I cannot guarantee that."
"This gives us an enhancement, another layer," Police Chief James Craig said. "Certainly I'm concerned about staffing in our districts, I've talked publicly about that."
In a prepared statement, US Attorney General Eric Holder stated "this city's police department is one of several that stood out." He went on to say the grant "is a well-deserved achievement, and it's a testament to the critical work that this state's law enforcement officers – along with community partners and residents – are already leading."
Holder joined Mayor Mark Mallory, Police Chief James Craig and Bernard Melekian, director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to announce the COPS Program grant awards to agencies throughout Ohio.
According to the US Department of Justice, the COPS Hiring Program is a competitive grant program that provides funding directly to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire police officers dedicated to addressing specific crime and disorder challenges.
The grants provide 100 percent funding for the entry-level salaries and benefits to newly-hired or rehired full time officer positions over a three year period.
In total, more than $15 million will be given out to different departments throughout Ohio during this round of awards. The 2011 COPS Hiring Program awards will help create or preserve 1,021 sworn law enforcement positions around the country according to the Department of Justice.
The grants will cover salaries and benefits for nearly 70 positions in Ohio for three years. Middletown will receive grant money to fund four positions.
Two years ago, Cincinnati was awarded more than $13.5 million to support 50 officer positions.
The Department of Justice says "Funding decisions were based on an agency's commitment to community policing, crime rates, changes in law enforcement budgets and other local fiscal data including poverty, unemployment, foreclosure rates, etc."
In total, more than $243 million in grants will be awarded nationwide to 238 law enforcement agencies and municipalities.