City awarded $1.5M grant to hire officers

The city has been awarded a $1.5 million grant that will help offset the costs of increasing police staffing from 218 to 240 officers.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that the Police Department was among dozens of law enforcement agencies across the nation to receive funding through its Community Oriented Policing Services program.

Police Chief Galen Carroll said the City Council will be asked at its Oct. 25 meeting to accept the grant and increase his department’s staffing.

While the department will hire 22 more officers, the grant covers part of the cost of hiring 12 of those officers over three years. The grant requires the city to keep and pay for the dozen officers in the fourth year.

The City Council approved Mayor Ted Brandvold’s proposal to increase police staffing in this year’s budget, which started July 1. But Carroll said the city did not want to take official action until it knew whether it had received the COPS grant.

He said the grant is for hiring officers to increase a police department’s staffing, not for filling vacancies. So if the council had allocated the Police Department 240 officers before receiving the grant, it would have to increase staffing to 252 officers. Modesto would struggle to pay for that many officers.

The city has estimated the cost of hiring 22 officers over four years at $11.7 million, which includes training and equipping them. The COPS grant would cover about 10 percent of that cost.

Carroll said his plan for the additional officers is to hire two lieutenants, two sergeants and 18 officers.

The lieutenants would take over the Police Department’s four area commands, which are now overseen by four lieutenants who also serve as watch commanders. Carroll said it is too much for the four lieutenants to be area and watch commanders.

The two sergeants and 18 officers would start in patrol but, Carroll said, eventually they would be broken into two teams of one sergeant and nine officers that would tackle problems in the community. For instance, they could do targeted traffic enforcement or try to shut down a drug house.

But this won’t happen soon. Carroll expects it could take a year for his department to reach 240 officers. He said while his department is currently allocated 218 officers, he has about 200 officers on the job, which includes roughly 10 officers who are still in training and are paired with veteran officers. He said the rest are in the process of being hired, in the police academy, or not working because of injuries.

Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316