$3 million from the U.S. for 25 new Philadelphia police officers

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, with Mayor Nutter, at the news conference at City Hall. The grant covers salary and benefits for three years.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, with Mayor Nutter, at the news conference at City Hall. The grant covers salary and benefits for three years. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 27, 2012

The Philadelphia Police Department will receive more than $3 million in federal money to hire new officers, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday. The grant, part of $111 million in funding being awarded to law enforcement agencies around the country, will pay for most of the salary and benefits of 25 new officers for the next three years.

The funding is contingent on the positions' being filled only by veterans who have served at least 180 days in the military since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"This gives these men and women a chance to continue doing what they signed up for in the first place, which is to protect our country," said U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, one of many politicians, city, and law enforcement officials who joined Holder on Monday at City Hall to make the announcement. "And do it right here on our streets."

The grants, Holder said, also will show veterans that "their fellow citizens are committed to taking care of them when they come home."

In all, 44 police positions will be financed in Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh will receive $1.4 million to hire 13 officers, Chester will be awarded $625,000, and Aliquippa will receive about $107,000. Trenton also will receive about $3 million to hire 12 officers.

All positions will be paid for by the Community Oriented Policing Services office (COPS), which has awarded billions in funding since its inception in 1993. In Philadelphia, COPS has funded the hire or rehire of more than 900 Philadelphia police officers.

Mayor Nutter, who has said he planned to hire about 400 police officers over the next few years, said he hoped to get the financed officers into the Police Academy by fall.

"Boots on the ground are part of the answer," Nutter said. "If community policing is done right, it can unite communities."

Along with Chicago and Los Angeles, Philadelphia was awarded funding to hire the largest number of officers. Holder said Philadelphia was green-lighted for 25 after Nutter and other city officials presented well-thought-out plans for making the best use of the manpower.

Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said that when he joined the Chicago Police Department in the 1960s, most officers had some military experience. Now, veterans are in the minority. According to Terry Gillen, director of federal legislative affairs for Nutter, 15 percent of the department's new police recruits last year were veterans.

"Having that background of discipline and training, it's just a benefit to any department," Ramsey said after the news conference. "They are committed to serve, and they can continue to serve."

Contact Allison Steele at 215-854-2641 or asteele@phillynews.com.

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