Stimulus Program Adds Police Officer

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The Wilkinsburg Police Department will be able to put one more officer on the street, thanks to a federal stimulus program.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allocated $1 billion to the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) for the COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP). This funding allows for the hiring of more than 5,000 new police officers nationwide. Wilkinsburg, which received $210,795 to pay for adding a police officer to the department, was one of nine western Pennsylvania communities to receive a share of the federal funds.

Selection criteria for the grant was divided equally between financial need and reported crime and community policing activities. Applicants were split into two categories based on population—jurisdictions with greater than 150,000 and those with less than 150,000. Of the 419 smaller jurisdictions that applied for grant money in Pennsylvania, Wilkinsburg was one of 18 chosen.

Erie and McKeesport received funding to hire six and three officers, respectively, and other local communities adding an officer are Aliquippa, Beaver Falls, McKees Rocks, Rochester, Sharon and the Southwest Mercer Regional Police Department. Although Philadelphia received $10.9 million, enough to hire 50 new police officers, Pittsburgh did not receive any funding.

The New Wilkinsburg officer is expected to be on the job by the end of the year. The $210,795 represents 100 percent of the approved entry-level salary and fringe benefits over three years  with a one-year retention period.

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