RuCo may hire new deputies with stimulus funds

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Rutherford County’s Sheriff’s Office may add 15 new pairs of boots to the streets, if a grant request is approved by the county commission and the federal government.

The Sheriff’s Office has applied for the COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP), a new program created by President Barack Obama’s stimulus package, which funds new police jobs for 3 years.

“Since the last hiring grant, we haven’t received any new officers,” said Lt. Phillip Martin, Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office grant writer.

The RCSO would like to hire 15 new patrol deputies with the grant. The last COPS grant the county received was in 2002, which ended in approximately 2005, he said.

“No additional patrol positions have been added since that time,” Martin said.

Budget and Finance Committee chairwoman Joyce Ealy said this is a good opportunity for the county to get more deputies as cheaply as possible, but the county must weigh the operational costs against the grant’s benefits.

The grant pays 100 percent of entry-level salary and benefits for each officer for three years, and the county must plan to retain COPS-funded officer positions for at least one year after the grant ends.

To the county, the grant is worth more than $2.9 million for wages and benefits. But the RCSO would have to fund equipment and training costs of $573,315 in the first year, County Finance Director Lisa Nolen said.

Martin said he is applying for other grants to cut down on the initial cost.

The county will also need to fund another $500,000 solely for wages for the year after the grants expire plus the cost of benefits.

CHRP makes $1 billion available for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which is estimated to create or save around 5,500 law enforcement jobs nationwide.

Michelle Willard can be contacted at 615-869-0816 or
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Economy, RuCo, Stimulus
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