The Turlock City Council Agenda item to Authorize the submittal of an application, acceptance of an allocation of funds, and execution of a grant agreement with the United States Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, for the reinstatement of four of five sworn officer positions eliminated within the 2008-09 mid-year and 2009-10 budgets in the amount of $1,173,226 was removed from the Agenda by City Manager Roy Wasden.
“In consultation with Chief Hampton, we would like to clarify some of the grant requirements and opportunities that exist with the contract. We should bring this back within 30 days,” said Wasden.
The Turlock Police Department was awarded grant funding as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP) grant provides 100 percent funding for approved entry-level sworn officer positions.
According to the Council Synopsis the four sworn officer positions that would be hired need to be retained for at least 12 months after the 36 month grant funding expires.
The concern of ongoing funding has been an issue raised by people.
The Council Synopsis says that the General Fund will be required to support these positions for the fourth year of this grant at a cost of $440,792.
Also stated is that federal funds must be used to supplement existing state and local funds for program activities and must not replace those funds that have been appropriated for the same purpose.
Discussion around accepting this grant money has included questions regarding the possibility of laying off four sworn officers and then hiring them back with the grant money. This would put more money back into the General Fund while maintaining our current police levels.
Previous to this issue being put on the agenda, City Manager Roy Wasden explained that “accepting of the grant mandates that the sworn staffing increases from 81 to 85 positions. To use the grant as described in this question would require a grant modification request to the COPS Office and could be rejected.”
Other questions have risen from that view point regarding the stipulation to have 85 sworn officers no matter what. Would the four sworn officers hired with this grant money have lay off protection while more senior officers get cut if hard economic times continue or would cutting sworn officers be allowed without jeopardizing the grant contract?
Again, this issue should be before the City Council again within 30 days. The grant funding is available for immediate use once Council approves to accept the money.