By MATT KOESTERS
The Jeffersonville Police Department is hopeful that it will add an officer to its ranks after the city council authorized Police Chief Chris Grimm to pursue a federal grant.
The council voted 5-4 to allow Grimm to apply for a Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Justice. Grimm had asked the council to allow him to apply for the grant to add four officers, but the council only gave their OK for one.
The COPS Hiring Program is a competitive grant program that provides funding to address the full-time sworn officer needs of state and local law-enforcement agencies nationwide to increase their community policing capacity and crime-prevention efforts, according to the COPS website’s frequently-asked-questions page. The grants provide 75 percent funding for approved entry-level salaries and fringe benefits of newly hired, full-time sworn officers over three years, up to a maximum of $125,000 per officer position.
As a requirement of the grant, the officers hired through the program must be retained for at least 13 months after that initial three-year period. Members of the council balked at the prospect of adding more payroll, though they expressed support for the police department.
“It’s a grant that comes along every four or five years,” Grimm said. “We’ve got to take advantage of this.”
Councilman Mike Smith pointed out that the grant would cover the officers’ salaries, but would not pay for other expenses like additional cars for the officers.
“I would love to hire more public-safety people,” Smith said, but cited circuit-breaker tax caps as the culprit behind the lack of funds for new officers.
Council President Connie Sellers said she was concerned that the officers would need to be let go when the funds dry up. Councilman Matt Owen asked if the problem would take care of itself through the attrition of retiring officers, but Councilman Brian Glover pointed out that the grant raises the minimum staffing requirement in the department.
“I’ve tried to find a way to make this work, and it’s a challenge,” Glover said.
The motion to allow Grimm to pursue funding for one officer narrowly passed, with Smith, Sellers, Dennis Julius and Nathan Samuel opposed.
MOORE’S VETO STANDS
The council agreed to remove two items from its agenda at the beginning of its meeting Monday, including a resolution passed on a 5-4 vote by the council on May 6 that was vetoed by Mayor Mike Moore.
The resolution, 2013-R-7, would have amended the city’s rule governing how the council’s agenda is modified and approved.
Under 2013-R-7, a simple majority would have been enough to modify the council’s meeting agenda. A unanimous vote is currently required.
The council did not discuss the decision to vote on overriding the mayor’s veto, except that there were not enough votes to do so. It would have taken six votes to override the veto.
The council also tabled 2013-OR-8, an ordinance which would implement a temporary freeze on the use of city-issued credit cards. Council Attorney Scott Lewis said the council is still in the information-gathering stage of designing a new ordinance to govern the use of credit cards by municipal employees.
WAGE POLICY FINALIZED
The ordinance establishing a new wage administration policy, which passed on first and second readings at the council’s May 6 meeting, was passed on its final reading.
The only thing changed in the policy prior to its passage was the language of a paragraph that called for wages to be reviewed at a minimum of every two years. The council elected to change the policy to call for wage reviews on an as-needed basis.