Turlock Police Department awarded federal grant to help add, retain officers

The Turlock Police Department is among 28 California law enforcement agencies to be awarded a federal grant intended to add or retain officers.

Other area agencies slated to receive the grant from the U.S. Department of Justice include the Atwater Police Department, Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office, Chowchilla Police Department, Madera Police Department, Stockton Police Department and Sacramento Police Department.

The Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, hiring program offers grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire community policing officers.

The program provides salaries and benefits for officer and deputy hires for three years. Grantees were selected based on their fiscal needs, local crime rates, and community policing plans.

Nearly $124 million will be awarded nationally.

Pending approval from the City Council on Oct. 14, the Turlock Police Department will receive $500,000 to fund four positions.

Officer Mayra Lewis, the department’s spokeswoman, said the money will fund 40 percent of the officers’ salaries and benefits for three years. The council will vote on whether to approve a 60 percent contribution of $700,000 before the city can accept the grant.

Lewis said grant-funded officers would replace current patrol officers, who would be used to re-establish the department’s Criminal Apprehension and Gang Enforcement unit, which was disbanded in July 2013 because of understaffing.

Atwater will receive $773,823 to hire two officers who will be assigned to patrol. Their grant does not require a local match.

Chief Frank Pietro said he will begin the hiring process within 30 days and an additional two officers could be hired along with the grant-funded positions.

Since 1995, COPS has awarded more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of approximately 125,000 officers and provide knowledge resource products including publications, training and technical assistance.

“Maintaining public safety is law enforcement’s most important task, and one that no single agency can achieve on its own,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said in a news release. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office relies upon and is grateful for the assistance and cooperation we receive every day from our local and state partners.”