The Justice Department announced Sept. 27 that more than $1.7 million in federal grants has been awarded to Baltimore, Hagerstown, Bladensburg and Seat Pleasant to help pay for more police officers in streets and schools.

Baltimore was awarded $1.25 million to hire 10 officers. Bladensburg received $125,000 to hire one officer, while Hagerstown got $250,000 for two officers and Seat Pleasant’s grant was $87, 344 for one officer.

The grants come from the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and are part of the COPS Hiring Program. Under that program, grants are made to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire community policing officers, according to a Justice news release. The program provides the salary and benefits for officer and deputy hires for three years.

“Keeping our children safe from violent crime, drugs and gangs is of critical importance,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “These grants will help provide communities with the resources to improve school safety.”

“In the wake of past tragedies, it’s clear that we need to be willing to take all possible steps to ensure that our kids are safe when they go to school,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “These critical investments represent the Justice Department’s latest effort to strengthen key law enforcement capabilities, and to provide communities with the resources they need to protect our young people. Especially in a time of increased challenges and limited budgets, our top priority must always be the safety and well-being of our children.”

The COPS Office funded awards were part of grants to 263 cities and counties, aimed at creating 937 law enforcement positions, according to the Justice Department. More than $125 million will be awarded nationally, including nearly $45 million to fund 356 new school resource officer positions.

“The COPS Office is pleased to assist local law enforcement agencies throughout the country to address their most critical public safety issues,” said Joshua Ederheimer, acting Director of the COPS Office. “Funding from this year’s program will allow many cities and counties to apply new sworn personnel to issues related to violent crime, property crime, and school safety.”

Justice said grantees for the 2013 hiring program were selected based on their fiscal needs, local crime rates, and their community policing plans. “There was an additional focus this year on agencies requesting assistance in developing school safety programs that would include the hiring of a school resource officer,” it said. School resource officer positions funded by the COPS Office are sworn law enforcement positions that work within a school district or facility, interacting directly with school administrators and students.

For the entire list of grantees and additional information about the 2013 COPS Hiring Program, visit the COPS website at