City looks into COPS program

Published 11:39 pm Monday, February 23, 2009

Clanton is eyeing a federal grant that could allow the Clanton Police Department the chance to maintain its current staff and possibly add another officer or two.

The City Council gave the city’s grant writer permission to pursue funding through the Community Oriented Police Service program (COPS), which could pay salaries for three or four police officers.

Clanton Police Chief Brian Stilwell hopes to use the grants to fill current vacancies and then add another officer or two. Currently, the department has 22 officers on staff, and there are at least two positions open at this time.

“The program is designed for departments to retain what we already have and eventually add additional officers,” Stilwell said.

President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan recently passed Congress and has been signed into law. Included in the stimulus package was an act to refund the COPS program, a program that had been initiated by former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

The current program, however, is set up differently than the old one. If Clanton is selected for the program, COPS will completely fund an officer’s salary up to $75,000 each year for three years, and the city must take over paying the officer’s salary in the fourth year.

The old program began as a 75-25 match, which was phased out over a four-year period until the city was paying the whole salary.

Some of the grants could be used for current officers’ salaries instead of strictly being used for new officers in the old program.

COPS hopes to create 100,000 police officer positions nationwide.

“It’s going to be very, very competitive grant,” Stilwell said. “We hope we can utilize this grant money.”

All of the council felt the program could be a good investment.

“It’s a win, win situation,” said Council member Greg DeJarnett.

In other business, the council unanimously passed a resolution retroactive to Sept. 30, 2008 stating that CRH has completed paying its lease and doesn’t owe any future payments for its building.