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Township Seeks Police Force Grant

SANATOGA PA – Lower Pottsgrove’s Police Department will apply for federal funding that pays most of the salary of an additional officer for three years, even though accepting the money commits it to the officer’s continued employment in later years, the township Board of Commissioners agreed Monday (April 6, 2009).

Lower Pottsgrove's polce force could grow with the help of a federal grant.

Lower Pottsgrove's polce force could grow under a federal grant.

Lower Pottsgrove currently employs 17 police officers, and commissioners said they were likely to endorse hiring an 18th. They noted, however, that simply applying for the money offered no assurance the township would get it (although  all believe it would), nor would the board be obligated to accept it if granted.

“We definitely want to try for this grant,” Commissioner Jonathan Spadt said, after Police Chief Michael Shade outlined its requirements and requested board authorization. “The way the township has grown,” Spadt added, “we’re probably going to be in a position to want another officer within four years anyway.”

Lower Pottsgrove’s department is among law enforcement agencies nationwide that qualify this year for money being distributed by the federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). COPS received $1 billion under the government’s economic stimulus bill – the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – specifically designated for the hiring of 5,500 additional police officers.

If received, the grant would cover the entire cost of entry-level salary and benefits for a for newly-hired, full-time sworn officer for 36 months. The township would be responsible for paying promotional raises and other expenses.

But because the stimulus bill’s goal is to create employment, grant winners must agree to keep COPS-funded officers on their forces once the federal money runs out. Commissioners said it seemed a reasonable demand. “We can look at it as three years of free training,” Spadt said of the grant money.

The calendar “window” to seek the grant is tight, Shade acknowledged. Grant applications are being accepted online only through Tuesday (April 14, 2009), so quick commission approval was needed. It was unanimous. “We certainly apply,” Commissioner Stephen Klotz urged.

  • Civil Service list for police. In a separate but related matter, the board authorized Shade to ask the township Civil Service Commission to convene and schedule Civil Service testing for entry-level officers. The process allows the chief to interview and choose an officer candidate from among a larger pool of qualified prospects.

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ April 6 meeting):

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