STATE –Last week, 18 New Jersey municipalities learned that they would receive $26.8 million in federal stimulus money from the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services program.
Unfortunately for some local communities, the recipients of funds are just a tiny percentage of more than 300 New Jersey police departments that applied for funds under the program.
The program is designed to help police departments hire or retain police officers by paying their salaries for three years. While many departments hoped to use the money to replace retiring officers, some will feel a more immediate impact.
South Amboy announced in May that five police officers would be laid off to close a budget gap if the federal funding did not come through. Since the announcement, one of the affected officers resigned to take another job. The city must find the funds to pay the remaining four officers by Aug. 15 or carry on with the layoffs.
“South Amboy is one of the biggest cases of a large impact,” said Jim Ryan, a spokesman for the New Jersey State Policeman’s Benevolent Association. The union expressed its disappointment with the small number of positions funded under the program.
Rahway also faces the prospect of laying off four officers and Perth Amboy hoped to win funding to re-hire 13 officers.
The Department of Justice awards funds based on a formula that takes into account a municipality’s financial health, crime statistics and other factors based on performance. More than 7,200 agencies applied this year, seeking $8.3 million in funds, said Gilbert Moore, a department spokesman.
“We looked at so many applications — and the applications have merit — but a billion dollars doesn’t go as far as used it to,” Moore said.
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