Local News

Federal Grants Could Be Too Costly For Local Law Enforcement Agencies

Posted March 25, 2002 3:54 a.m. EST

— Two local law enforcement agencies could be saying "No Thanks" to money that could put more officers on the street. That is because they doubt they can meet the financial requirements needed to get the money.

Officials with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office and the Raleigh Police Department said that they would love to accept the grants that would enable them to put more officers in areas that need them.

The problem is that the grants have to be matched. In these lean times, Raleigh city leaders said that money is hard to find.

Raleigh could put a dozen more officers on the street fast if it accepts the $900,000 federal community policing grant.

City Manager Russell Allen said he will advise the city council to turn the offer down, because the money would cover just half the cost of the new officers; the city would have to put up the rest.

"Budget resources are very tight for us here at the city, given the economy and the fact that the state has put a significant amount of their budget pressure on us at the local level," Allen said.

Allen said that the city was not expecting the grant that was applied for two years ago.

He said that the other catch is that the grant goes away after three years, and then the city would have to assume the full cost of the additional officers.

Allen and Police Chief Jane Perlov said that the department has other priorities, like filling the more than 40 vacancies it already has, and most importantly, a major technology upgrade.

"Simply adding more people is not the highest priority even if we're enticed with federal grants to do it," Allen said.

Gary Murray owns a business in an area of Raleigh many officers believe could use more patrols. He said that he understands the city's reasons for not taking the federal grant.

"They could use more policemen, more firemen and more paramedics, but I guess that's at any time," Murray said.

Some patrol officers said that adding to their ranks could bring down response times in certain parts of the city.

Right now, the city is not sending officers to any out of town training in order to save money on travel costs.

The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office was offered a $2.4 million community policing grant.