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Federal grants to fund police positions announced

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
Tuscon, Arizona, was one of five law enforcement agencies to receive grants for 50 officers.
Tuscon, Arizona, was one of five law enforcement agencies to receive grants for 50 officers.
  • The COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program is allocating $298 million
  • The federal program provides grants to fund police positions
  • More than 4,000 police agencies had requested funds
  • Recipients were announced Thursday

Washington (CNN) -- With hundreds of communities nationwide forced to slash budgets and layoff police officers, the disclosure Thursday of which cities would receive federal grants to fund police positions had been eagerly awaited. Five hit the bureaucratic jackpot.

Justice Department officials announced cities in virtually every state would receive anywhere from a single officer to a legal maximum of 50 police officers.

In total, the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program, administered by the Justice Department, announced it had divided the $298 million appropriation to fund 1,388 police positions.

The five biggest recipients, each receiving grants for 50 officers, were Houston, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; Metro Dade County in Florida; the Sacramento, California, Sheriff's Department and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Federal funds will go for new police hires in those areas, except for Sacramento, which will use the funds to re-hire officers furloughed, officials said.

Officials in charge of the program cited current crime rates and demonstrated financial need as key criteria for the funding.

"There is almost nothing more effective in keeping the public safe than cops on the beat who have the equipment and resources they need," said Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli.

Perrelli led the parade of officials announcing the grants at a ceremony in Houston.

Left unsaid was the long list of cities that received little or no funding.

A total of 4,423 police agencies had requested funds for more than 10,408 police officers. Officials acknowledge there remains a continuing hunger for federal assistance among state, county, and local law enforcement agencies.

But for the cities that received funds, this was a day for quiet celebration.

"The officers that we will get through this program, through this grant, will be men and women to help us keep the city safe," declared Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt.