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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Police Chief Chuck Harmon wants stimulus money to pay for 10 new cops



ST. PETERSBURG-- Police Chief Chuck Harmon said he will seek federal recovery dollars to hire 10 new officers.

Harmon said he will apply for $2.1 million through a Department of Justice grant. The deadline is April 14.

The grant requires the city to retain its new hires for at least one year beyond the conclusion of the three-year grant period. That will cost $710,000. City officials said they would likely set aside some money in each annual budget preceding the fourth year to help comply with the grant even if the economy does not rebound.

Some of the grant money will be used to replace retiring officers. The federal dollars would increase the police department's authorized strength from 540 to 545 officers.

City council member Karl Nurse, who pushed for the city to speed up its stimulus grant application efforts in recent weeks, said he had hoped for more than 10 new officers, but would abide by Harmon's decision.

Mayor Rick Baker's staff said they will also seek federal stimulus dollars to help cover community development projects, social services expenses and restore native plants to Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, Maximo Park and other public lands.

The social service dollars will likely be used to fund Pinellas Hope, said Baker. The outdoor homeless shelter is in danger of losing its funding as local governments struggle to balance their budgets.

City Hall could also seek money to help fund a new air traffic control tower at Albert Whitted Airport.

Cristina Silva, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:48am]


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