Federal Recovery Act helps Maryland police departments hire 112 officers; State touts significant reductions in violent crime
BALTIMORE, Md. (February 19, 2010) – Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown joined Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Director of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Bernard K. Melekian, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Congressman John Sarbanes, Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld, III, Prince George’s County Police Chief Roberto L. Hylton and local law enforcement leaders today for a press conference touting the effectiveness of the Federal Recovery Act, signed one year ago this week by President Barack Obama. The Federal Recovery Act allowed Maryland to hire 112 police officers through $23.25 million in grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s COPS Hiring Recovery Program.
“One year ago, President Obama took swift action to pull us out of the recession and put Americans to work. Here in Maryland, the Federal Recovery Act has saved and created thousands of jobs, and public safety is no exception,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “With the help of COPS and our strong federal and local partners, we now have more police officers patrolling our streets, securing our neighborhoods and protecting our families.”
“One year ago this week, the President signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, and we are pleased that it has translated into jobs being saved and created in Maryland. Cops count and every officer can have a positive impact on making communities safer places to live and work,” said COPS Director Bernard K. Melekian.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama one year ago this week, included $1 billion for COPS hiring grants to be awarded to police departments to hire new police officers or rehire officers who would have otherwise been laid off due to budget constraints. In July 2009, Vice President Biden announced that the COPS Office would award 1,046 grants to hire or rehire 4,699 law enforcement officers across the nation. Eight Maryland agencies received grants totaling more than $23 million to hire 112 officers, including Baltimore City which was awarded a $10 million grant to hire 50 officers.
“In the past decade, Baltimore has seen a significant decline in crime rates,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “COPS funding will allow us to continue to build on these achievements, making every community in Baltimore safer and stronger.”
Last year, Maryland reported the lowest violent crime rate since 1987 and the largest three-year reduction in homicides since the 1970s, including a 46 percent reduction in juvenile homicides over the same period of time. Between 2008 and 2009, Prince George’s County and Baltimore City reduced juvenile homicides by 45 and 53 percent, respectively.
Of the 71 Maryland law enforcement agencies that applied for a grant, eight agencies were awarded a combined $23.25 million to hire or retain 112 officers:
· Baltimore City Police Department - $10,131,050 for 50 officer positions
· Town of Bladensburg - $221,672 for one officer position
· Cambridge Police Department - $356,212 for two officer positions
· City of Laurel - $726,411 for three officer positions
· Prince George’s County Police Department - $10,630,950 for 50 officer positions
· Town of Princess Anne - $187,437 for one officer position
· Riverdale Park Police Department - $203,727 for one officer position
· City of Salisbury - $795,068 for four officer positions
“At the one year anniversary of the Recovery Act, I am even more proud to have cast my vote for it,” said Congressman Elijah Cummings. “Those who say it has failed should come to Baltimore and meet the police officers whose jobs have been saved and whose incredible work, day in and day out, makes our city a safer place to live. I am certain that their fine work will continue, that they will continue to protect and serve the citizens of Baltimore. Voting for the Recovery Act helped keep officers on the streets, and I will consider it my sworn duty to continue helping them in any way possible.”
The funding made available by the COPS Office covers entry-level salaries and benefits. The Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) made additional funding available to local police departments to help defray the costs of training and equipment for the new positions. GOCCP provided the agencies with the opportunity to apply for up to $10,000 in funding for each new position funded by the COPS office. To date, four agencies have received matching grants from GOCCP, including Baltimore City Police Department, City of Salisbury, Cambridge Police Department and Town of Princess Anne.
“This is a terrific example of how the Recovery Act is putting people to work and making our communities safer,” said Congressman John Sarbanes. “The men and women who serve in Baltimore’s dedicated police force are the backbone of our city and I am pleased that these resources will go to expand their ranks.”
The COPS Office, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice, awards grants to state, local, territory and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire and train community policing professionals, acquire and deploy cutting-edge crime-fighting technologies, and develop and test innovative policing strategies. COPS Office funding also provides training and technical assistance to community members and local government leaders and all levels of law enforcement.
“Economists on both sides of the aisle agreed that the Recovery Act was necessary to stave off another depression. Here in Maryland, it also helped us get more than 100 police officers back to work to support their families and keep us safe in the process. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. One year later, the state’s violent crime rate has been reduced and more Maryland families are back on their feet,” said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger.
By the end of FY2008, the COPS Office had helped more than 13,000 of the nation’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies hire 117,000 additional officers. Nearly 500,000 law enforcement personnel, community members, and government leaders have been trained through COPS Office-funded training organizations.
“I want to thank Governor O'Malley, Lt. Governor Brown and our federal delegation for their continued commitment to Baltimore by providing these much needed funds to put more police officers on foot patrols in our neighborhoods,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld III.
“Police officers and technology cost money that local agencies just don’t have right now, given the current economic climate. Stimulus funds have become critical for us to maintain safe communities. For example, the Prince George’s County Police Department received federal stimulus money that allowed us to hire 50 new police officers that we otherwise wou