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NH police departments finding less personnel funding as federal COPS dollars dry up
New Hamphire Union Leader ^ | 7-31-12 | Barbara Taromina

Posted on 08/01/2012 6:33:54 PM PDT by AlmaKing

New Hampshire police departments that have tapped into national grant programs to help pay for personnel and equipment that town budgets don’t cover are finding less support as federal agencies rein in spending.

Those who’ve opposed the use of these grants would argue that’s for the best.

The U.S. Dept. of Justice Community Orientated Policing Services (COPS) grants, which cover most of the cost of hiring new police officers, have been cut by more than 50 percent. And grants from the Dept. of Homeland Security that pay for training and equipment such as armored vehicles, surveillance cameras, radios, protective clothing and other types of gear, are also being cut back.

Although police departments get grants from many different agencies, such as the N.H. Highway Safety Agency and N.H. Attorney General’s Office, COPS grants have been a major source of funding for departments whose chiefs say they are understaffed.

COPS grants, meant to cover the cost of a new officer for four years, have been a problem for many local departments because they fund only the first three years of salary. Cities and towns must agree to pay for the fourth year on their own.

“I have not applied for a COPS grant for a while because of the requirements,” said Derry Police Chief Edward Garone. “Derry, like every other community, is facing some serious budget issues. The Town Council has been very good to us, but every year we are asked to cut back.”

Police departments that accept COPS grants are not allowed to reduce staff until the end of the fourth year. Garone and other chiefs say it’s impossible to know what the needs of communities and the departments will be four years out, and accepting a COPS grants locks them into staffing levels.

Pelham Police Chief Joseph Roark did pick up a 2011 COPS grant that allowed him to hire an additional officer.

“The grant was a warrant article and the town voted to approve it,” said Roark. “They understood we needed the additional help.”

Manchester aldermen voted on July 17 to authorize the fire and police departments to hire more officers and firefighters funded through federal grants, against the strong objections of Mayor Ted Gatsas, who argued that the new hires would saddle the city with “unsustainable” costs when the funding ends.

The aldermen voted to allow the fire department to seek a grant to hire eight firefighters through the SAFER program, administered by the Dept. of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency. The grant covers salaries and benefits for the new firefighters for the next two fiscal years, at an estimated cost of $561,000 and $575,000 in 2013 and 2014. The city would bear the staffing costs of approximately $600,000 in 2015, but it would not be obligated to retain the firefighters beyond that.

Gatsas said, “Communities across the country are saying no to these grants because they don’t know where the money is coming from.”

Manchester aldermen also voted to authorize the police department to use grant money for five new officer positions. City Police Chief David Mara said that the money could be used to pay the salaries of two recently hired officers. The grant would provide $620,000 over three years to the city, while the city would bear costs of approximately $18,000 in 2013, $50,000 in 2014, $50,000 in 2015 and $233,000 in 2016, according to city Finance Director Bill Sanders.

Alderman Joe Kelly Levasseur voted against both grants. “I don’t know why people think taking money from Washington is free money. Washington is so broke it makes us in Manchester look like financial geniuses.”

Danville Police Chief Wade Parsons said his department was able to hire a much-needed officer in 2005 due to a grant.

“We were understaffed for awhile, but we received the grant and we were able to maintain that position,” said Parsons.

But in Hampton, Chief Joseph Sullivan had to pass on a 2008 COPS grant that would have funded three new officers.

“We were awarded the grant, but the community decided not to accept it,” said Sullivan. “There was a staffing deficiency but there wasn’t an ability to do it.”

2009 stimulus

Funding for COPS grants received a huge boost in 2009 when the program was bolstered with nearly $1 billion in stimulus funding. In New Hampshire, 12 communities were awarded more than $5 million in grants to hire a total of 24 new officers, 10 of whom were slated for the city of Manchester.

In 2012, Manchester was the only community to receive a COPS grant, totaling $625,000.

Grants for equipment and training from Homeland Security also came with some financial strings attached. According to the state Dept. of Public Safety, the federal government generally picks up 75 to 80 percent of the cost of equipment and training. State, regional and local applicants pick up the remaining costs.

Police departments have received different types of equipment.

“Through Homeland Security, the town was able to get some useful and meaningful equipment,” said Garone. “It’s a very effective means of delivering services.”

The city of Keene made national headlines over controversy following its announcement the city was eligible for a grant, which the City Council would later accept, to pay for a BearCat armored vehicle for its police department.

The Carroll County Sherriff’s Office picked up a $75,000 command trailer in 2005, the same year Portsmouth was awarded a $350,000 chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear emergency watercraft.

In the past, Kingston has received $14,000 for night-vision equipment, Manchester was awarded $36,650 for equipment to deal with suspect luggage. Nashua received $285,000 for a command unit and Bow received $51,000 for physical security.

Many police departments, sheriffs’ offices and regional groups have picked up communications equipment, computer software and surveillance cameras. And millions of dollars have been invested in training.

Terry Clark, a city councilor in Keene, was part of a group that opposed the acceptance of the grant money for the Keene BearCat.

Clark said that according to a local radio poll, somewhere between 70 to 90 percent of the local population also thought the Bearcat was an unnecessary expense, particularly when the money is needed for so many other things, such as heating that was cut by $3 million last winter.

“We are throwing away our independence and freedom in the name of safety and protection,” said Clark.

Windham Police Chief Gerald Lewis, who serves on the committee that reviews applications for Homeland Security grants, said a lot of the equipment that has been distributed to various departments isn’t used very often, but the point is to make sure police have what they need when they need it.

“We have lost perspective on what the intention was,” said Lewis. “It’s a resource that’s called on when it’s needed. We have tools, weapons, resources that we may not use all that often, but we need to have the expertise and training to use them when we have to.”

Lewis said police will always respond when someone needs help and when they don’t have the right equipment, they put themselves in danger.

Garone said, “We need to protect the protectors.”

TOPICS: Local News
KEYWORDS: newhampshire; spending; stimulus
Stimulus money is running out, and now the local communites/tax payers have to pay the piper.
1 posted on 08/01/2012 6:34:08 PM PDT by AlmaKing
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To: AlmaKing

But didn’t the first black president, Clinton, allow money for more cops and things?

2 posted on 08/01/2012 6:37:46 PM PDT by SkyDancer ("Ambition Without Talent Is Sad - Talent Without Ambition Is Worse")
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To: AlmaKing

Prepare for ANOTHER hike in property taxes, NH...I thought the ‘Free Staters’ were going to fix all this...

3 posted on 08/01/2012 6:38:07 PM PDT by who knows what evil? (G-d saved more animals than people on the
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To: who knows what evil?

Keene, where the Free State movement is based, is the town which bought the Bearcat with fed money. I’m sure they are celebrating this. But, Keene taxpayers are probably stuck now with an asset they can’t afford to maintain.

4 posted on 08/01/2012 6:41:31 PM PDT by AlmaKing
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To: who knows what evil?

Keene, where the Free State movement is based, is the town which bought the Bearcat with fed money. I’m sure they are celebrating this. But, Keene taxpayers are probably stuck now with an asset they can’t afford to maintain.

5 posted on 08/01/2012 6:41:43 PM PDT by AlmaKing
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To: who knows what evil?

Keene, where the Free State movement is based, is the town which bought the Bearcat with fed money. I’m sure they are celebrating this. But, Keene taxpayers are probably stuck now with an asset they can’t afford to maintain.

6 posted on 08/01/2012 6:41:53 PM PDT by AlmaKing
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To: AlmaKing


The state and local police are becoming WAY too militarized!

Just last week in Concord NH, We saw what we thought was a national guard unit arresting a guy in a Dunkin Donuts parking lot.

A U-Haul box truck pulled up behind a red late model car, and all these soldiers poured out the back, maybe 16 of them, with M16s, Beretta sidearms, camouflage battle gear, flak vests, kevlar helmets, the whole nine yards.

When we remembered that only the governor or president could call out the National Guard, we realized that it was state or local police.

I’ve been to Russia and Brazil, where they have “military police”, and have NEVER seen anything like that.

A guy in Litchfield was shot to death by a SWAT team when he was out in his yard target practicing.

Another guy, bipolar and off his meds, was shot to death in Winchester when he made “threatening motions” with a knife. His wife had called the cops, but she never dreamed that they would kill him.

I hope they have to sell some of that military gear to have enough money to buy donuts.

The police are WAY too militarized.

7 posted on 08/01/2012 6:42:45 PM PDT by Westbrook (Children do not divide your love, they multiply it.)
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To: Westbrook

I agree that they are way too militarized. Our local department in Goffstown is well armed with AR-15s, and thery claim we have a huge drug problem when the crime rates here are actually just about 0 for every category.

TO add to that, I’ve driven through town every day for the past 3 years and see the same 3 police vans and 5 cruisers sitting at the court house next to the state prison. New, unused vehicles sitting there is just a waste of our money.

8 posted on 08/01/2012 6:48:55 PM PDT by AlmaKing
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To: AlmaKing


“... What you gonna do,
What you gonna do when the checks are through?”

Feds should only pay locals for duties the feds should be handling themselves: illegal immigrants, military bases issues, foreign embassies issues, etc.

Like the guys statemenr:”Washington makes us look like geniuses!” LOL! Too true.

9 posted on 08/01/2012 6:50:43 PM PDT by mrsmith (Dumb sluts: Lifeblood of the Media, Backbone of the Democrat Party!)
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To: AlmaKing
Too many community police departments in this country are mistaking themselves for Homeland inSecurity’s Federal military troops these days. As long as the people are armed and safe in self defense, we don't need jacked up police departments. We need to send Homeland inSecurity packing from the States. The road blocks are ridiculous.
10 posted on 08/01/2012 7:34:05 PM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: AlmaKing

I have told this to my chief, and he laughs, but nervously.

I tell him that one day the DHS is going to start going to police departments everywhere and offer to fund the whole enchilada. Everything. Equipment, salary, retirement, everything.

All they will want it return is the ability to mobilize cops anywhere in the nation for disasters, natural and manmade.

It’s happening now. The DHS bought 450 million rounds of .40 caliber ammunition, the most common police pistol ammo. It is providing encrypted radios in the future. Police departments nationwide are getting more CT training, and thats for everybody from road dogs (patrol) to command staff.

Since Katrina FEMA has pushed agencies into the NIMS (National Incident Management System) and all first responders are strongly encouraged if not mandated to participate in it, in it’s various levels. This is not the states pushing this, it’s the FED.

Some would say that it would be more efficient to have a nationalize police department but that seems to be just another standing army.

Remember what Obama said about having a national security force just as powerful, just a well funded,as the military?

11 posted on 08/02/2012 5:40:04 AM PDT by Molon Labbie (Prep. Now. Live Healthy, take your Shooting Iron daily.)
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