Several things have changed in the Cherokee Village Police Department since Jason French took over as police chief, and the council has been receptive of the change, so far. But, French requested a possible change at the March 19 council meeting that some of the council was not so receptive to.
French introduced the idea of the newly developed grant called the COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP). CHRP is a grant program designed to address the full-time sworn officer needs of state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.
The goal in mind for this grant is for law enforcement agencies to be able to hire career law enforcement officers in an effort to create and preserve jobs. Up to $1 billion in grant funding was appropriated for this through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
CHRP grants will provide 100 percent funding for approved entry-level salaries and fringe benefits of full-time officers for 36 months.
CHRP grants may be used on or after the official grant award start date to: Hire new officer positions (including filling existing officer vacancies that are no longer funded in an agency's budget; rehire officers who have been laid off as a result of state, local or tribal budget cuts unrelated to the receipt of grant funding; or rehire officers who are scheduled to be laid off on a specific future date as a result of state, local or tribal budget cuts unrelated to the receipt of grant funding.
The grants will be awarded for officer positions requested in the three hiring categories: there is no cap on the number of positions an agency may request. However, at the conclusion of federal funding, grantees must retain all sworn officer positions awarded under the CHRP grant for a minimum of 12 months following the 36 month grant period.
This means if Cherokee Village were awarded this grant, after the grant funding is up in 36 months the city must budget to keep all officers hired under the grant for an additional year.
French asked the council that he be able to apply for the grant, which was not disputed. It wasn't until French told the council how many officers he would like to obtain under this grant that the council started their debate.
French requested permission to apply for the grant to cover five additional officers. The grant would cover the five officers' salaries and benefits for three years, but the fourth year the city would be responsible for their salaries.
French presented to the council a budget he had worked up to show how much would need to be budgeted to cover the salaries of five extra police officers the fourth year. The first year each new officer would start with an approximate salary of $37,597 per year, totalling $187,985 for the whole year. This amount would be covered by the grant.
By the fourth year, when the city would have to endure the salaries, their obligation would be $249,260. This amount is in addition to the salaries of the current officers. Alderman Tom Thone said he felt this is too much too fast and some of the others agreed.
French told the council this is the perfect opportunity to bring the police force to the level it needs to be. After much discussion the council voted to allow French to write the grant for three officers. The vote was three to four. French thanked the council.
The council reminded everyone of the working meeting session that is scheduled for April 20 at 6:30.
The meeting is to further discuss the future of the Spring River Animal Shelter. The first meeting was held March 11 and several supporters of the shelter showed up to voice their concerns.
The council would like for anyone with any opinion to attend so they have a better idea of what those who aren't big supporters of the shelter think as well.