PINELLAS PARK — The city will be hiring five new police officers with the help of a bit more than a million dollars in federal stimulus money.
The money, in the form of a Cops Hiring Program Recovery Grant, is designed to pay for the officers for three years. Pinellas Park is required to keep the officers on staff for at least one additional year after the federal money runs out.
The addition of the five will bring the number of officers in the Pinellas Park Police Department to 100. They'll be used as patrol officers.
"It's basically to keep cops on the street," city spokesman Tim Caddell said.
Although the news is good, it's not quite as good as Pinellas Park officials were hoping for. They had applied for enough money to pay for seven officers.
"We got five, so we're happy," Caddell said. "Some people didn't get any. We're thrilled with it. ... It's nice to have good news."
Caddell said he's not sure if the City Council will consider including the other two positions as part of upcoming budget negotiations.
The $1,000,410 grant is part of the $1 billion in stimulus funding allocated to the U.S. Department of Justice earlier this year to provide an additional 5,500 sworn officers nationwide. The cop grants go directly to law enforcement agencies to hire and rehire career law enforcement officers to help increase community policing and crime prevention efforts.
Because Pinellas Park has not laid off any officers, all five will be new hires. The grant will pay 100 percent of their expenses for the three years.
Other agencies in the county also received funding under the grant. St. Petersburg received $2.05 million for 10 officers. Tarpon Springs was awarded $376,836 for two cops. St. Pete Beach got $232,872 for one police officer.
The Pasco and Manatee County sheriff's offices and the Plant City and New Port Richey police also got grants.