Colorado gets $5 million in stimulus funds for police | AspenTimes.com

Colorado gets $5 million in stimulus funds for police

P. Solomon Banda
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER – Colorado is getting $5 million in federal stimulus money to pay for police officers in 13 communities.

The largest recipient in Colorado is Grand Junction, which is receiving $1.3 million for five police officers. Other departments getting Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS money include Commerce City, which is receiving $872,612 for four police officers, and Englewood, which is receiving $697,146 for three police officers.

Under the COPS program, the federal government pays the officers’ salary and benefits for three years, after which the local government is responsible for the costs.

About 7,000 state and local agencies applied for aid under the program that is part of the $787 billion stimulus package passed earlier this year. Of those, only about 1,000 were approved.

The $5 million that Colorado is receiving is the minimum amount each state is getting through the program.

“We feel very fortunate to receive the amount we have received,” said Troy Smith, deputy police chief for Grand Junction, even though the grant will fund only half the number of police they applied for.

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Smith said the grant will allow them to fill five vacancies that have gone unfilled as the city struggles with declining tax revenue for the first time since 1983 – the year oil companies abandoned their oil shale projects.

The city and surrounding county has experienced some growth from the recent oil and gas boom, with the county’s population projected at 153,000 by the end of next year, up from 135,000 this year.

Smith said the city has recently experienced a rise in property crimes – shoplifting, burglaries, auto thefts – though it’s not clear whether it’s the economy or population increase.

Grand Junction police wanted to add a school resource officer, two criminal investigators, and two officers for their street crime unit, who don’t answer 911 calls but investigate crimes in city hotspots.

“It is a very effective deployment of resources in a way that has a dramatic impact in our crime and problem solving and policing,” Smith said of the street crimes unit.

Larimer County did not apply for the money out of concern that they won’t be able to continue the positions once the funding ends.

Other communities receiving funding are: Alamosa ($163,124), Ault ($152,957), Black Hawk ($262,308), Colorado Springs ($418,560), Florence ($133,881), Idaho Springs ($162,716), Ignacio ($182,183), Steamboat Springs ($204,695), Telluride ($191,113) and Vail ($258,970).

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