The West Fargo Police Department recently learned they had been awarded a Department of Justice (DOJ) COPS Hiring Grant in the amount of $408,000. The funds are to be used to hire two new police officers and cover the cost of salary and benefits for the officers over a period of three years. Program requirements dictate the two positions must be maintained for a minimum of one year past the expiration of the grant. West Fargo received a similar grant in 2009 in the amount of $388,256 and hired two officers.
The Police Department has applied for and received funding for a variety of sources. The DOJ has provided grant dollars for hiring under other COPS hiring programs. DOJ also manages the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program providing money to purchase specialized equipment or pay salaries for targeted enforcement. JAG funding allocation is based on population and numbers of reported crimes within the receiving community.
Homeland Security and the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services allocated funding to the police department to purchase communications equipment and conduct radio reprogramming. Other equipment purchased includes remote area lighting, traffic control devices, emergency response equipment and protective equipment. Following the terrorist attacks of 9-11 a substantial amount of funding was made available to emergency responders. Funding has since been scaled back and is now targeted on those areas deemed most vulnerable.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT) manages transportation funding allocations relating to traffic safety enforcement. DOT offers opportunities for local agencies to apply for and receive grants to buy speed enforcement equipment and in car video cameras or to pay the salary of officers conducting targeted traffic enforcement. Funding is also used to provide public education on traffic safety issues.
The West Fargo Police Department strives to be fiscally responsible to the community and to provide the best service possible. Utilizing grant programs allows the department to increase services to the citizens of West Fargo without additional requirements being placed on local tax payers. However, the department is careful not to be dependent upon the funding provided by outside sources as those funds may not always be available. Through proper planning and budgeting our resources can be utilized to their fullest to support our growing community.