Police get OK to apply for COPS grant; funding is a trickier matter

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Monday, May 20, 2013

Police Chief Dan Reynolds will be have to readjust his department’s 2013-2014 proposed budget if the Department of Justice approves a COPS (Cops Oriented Policing Service) hiring grant for three new Greer police officers.

Reynolds requested and received City Council’s approval to pre-apply by the May 22 deadline. The matching grant will cover 75 percent of the new officers salaries and benefits for three years with the city to pay 25 percent of the cost. The city will be required to keep the officers for a fourth year at its expense.

Reynolds said the city would be liable for $113,000 the first three years, the Justice Department $339,000. The Greer PD used a COPS grant, since expired last year, to hire three officers that have been absorbed into the department.

Councilman Jay Arrowood (District 1) asked Reynolds if the Greer economy would come to a sudden halt, what was the city’s obligation? Reynolds said once council approves the grant the city is fiscally responsible to fulfill its responsibility. “We average one to two officers a year leaving,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds’ proposed budget, that City Administrator Ed Driggers presented to City Council last week, did not include any new full-time hires. Driggers appeared miffed at Reynolds’ request to council, just hours after his staff printed the detailed budget. “There is no money in this budget for additional police,” Driggers said. “(Chief Reynolds) will have to find it.”

The Justice Department reported police departments are not required to hire military veterans under the COPS grant, as it was in 2012, but departments designating its commitment to vets will receive additional consideration in their requests. Hiring additional school resource officers will also get favorable consideration, according to the federal agency.

Reynolds’ staff is at 52 – the same number he said he had when he was hired as police chief in 2005. Sgt. Randle Ballenger is due back from deployment in Kosovo this summer.

“Greer has steadily grown since I came here in 2005. We now have the opening of the Inland Port, new neighborhoods with new residents and more commercial development,” said Reynolds.

“Our population has almost doubled and we (department) haven’t grown. We can’t predict what demands all these things will have but we must be for ready for it. It would be better to be ahead of the ballgame than behind the eight ball when that occurs,” Reynolds said.

City Council will have a workshop on May 28 with the pubic forum and first reading of the 2013-2014 budget on June 11 and second reading and approval on June 25. The public is invited to all meetings at 6:30 p.m.



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