Council approves request for police

By M. Robert Berg

DeKalb might get three new police officers for the price of one, if a bid to get a federal grant is successful.

The DeKalb City Council authorized the submission of a funding application by the police department for a federal grant. This grant, offered by the U.S. Department of Justice, would assist DeKalb in hiring officers for community-oriented programs.

City Manager Bill Nicklas, in a memorandum to the council, explained the purpose of the grant program.

“The U.S. Department of Justice is sponsoring a ‘Police Hiring Supplemental Grant Program’ to assist cities in establishing and expanding community-oriented programs,” he said.

If the Justice Department decides to give DeKalb the grant, three officers can be hired, with the grant paying for most of their salary for three years, Nicklas said.

“The eligible grants are supported by a 25 percent local match for salaries and fringe benefits over a period of three years, after which cities are expected to assume full funding of any officers hired to sustain such community-oriented programs,” he said.

DeKalb would have to pay 25 percent of the cost for the new officers, which adds up to $122,650 over three years. After three years, DeKalb would pay 100 percent of the cost.

According to the resolution passed by the city council, the police department does plan to keep the officers after the grant would run out.

“The police department is committed to continuing its community-oriented policing program on a permanent basis and shall fully fund this program with local revenues beginning in fiscal year 1997,” the resolution stated.

The three officers that would be hired with the grant money would serve three different purposes, according to Nicklas. One officer would fill a patrol position left vacant since 1991.

Another officer would work specifically within selected apartment complexes and the last would work full-time within the DeKalb school system teaching Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) courses and a new “gang resistance” curriculum.

Applications must be in Washington by Nov. 1, so the department had to put together a proposal on short notice. “For this grant opportunity, the police department scraped it up and put it together in a short time,” he said.

This grant would help in a problem area of DeKalb police protection, Nicklas said.

“For a number of years, we’ve been close to the edge in terms of our ability to respond to community policing concerns,” he said.

DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow summed up the benefits of receiving this grant at the council meeting. “If we qualify for this grant, we can get three officers for the price of three quarters of one,” he said.

Grant awards are expected after Jan. 1, 1994, Nicklas said.