The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice aimed at hiring a military veteran into law enforcement.
A total of five eastern Tennessee counties received a portion of the $596,773 COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) application.
Sheriff Jim Ruth said today he wished for more funding but would put the money to good use.
The grant is “aimed at creating or saving approximately 800 law enforcement positions” in over 220 cities and counties, according to a report from the USDOJ.
More than $111 million is being awarded to the many public safety agencies.
The grants will fund over 600 new law enforcement positions and save an additional 200 positions recently lost or in jeopardy of being cut due to local budget cuts. All new law enforcement positions funded in the COPS 2012 Hiring Program must be filled by recent military veterans who have served at least 180 days since Sept. 11, 2001, according to the information provided.
The list of this year’s grantees included the BCSO, the LaFollette Police Department and the Sevierville Police Department, according to the DOJ.
“Today, we step up our support for recent veterans by offering them the chance to pursue meaningful careers in law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a press release. "At a time of budget shortfalls, these grants will provide opportunities for much-needed, highly trained professionals — with a proven commitment to service — to continue their careers in communities all across the country.”
“This new opportunity for veterans is a commitment to support those who are coming home from their tour of duty,” said Bernard Melekian, COPS Office director. “We sincerely hope this effort encourages our veterans to continue to protect and serve the United States through new law enforcement careers.”
U.S. Attorney William C. Killian said, “We are pleased that Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, Sevierville Police Department and Lafollette Police Department were chosen by COPS to receive these grants. It will help them relieve some personnel burdens. We are particularly satisfied with the requirement that these positions be filled with veterans.”
The COPS Hiring Program makes grants to state, local and Native American tribal law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire community policing officers. The program provides the salary and benefits for officer and deputy hires for three years.
Along with the pledge to hire military veterans, grantees for the 2012 Hiring Program were selected based on fiscal need and local crime rates. An additional factor in the selection process was each agency’s strategy to address specific problems such as increased homicide rates and gun violence, according to DOJ information.
In his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama called for a new Veterans Jobs Corps initiative to help put veterans back to work on a range of projects that leverage skills developed in the military, including first responder jobs. In February, the president announced that preference for this year’s COPS and SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grants would be given to communities that recruit and hire post-9/11 veterans to serve as police officers and firefighters, according to the DOJ.
“We were hoping for more funding due to the local population growth. We are appreciative of what funding we are going to receive and the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office will put it to good use,” said Ruth.