COVINGTON -- The Newton County Sheriff's Office has received notification from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) that it is the recipient of a grant amounting to nearly $1 million earmarked for hiring veterans. Other area recipients are the Atlanta Police Department which received close to $2 million and MARTA which received $625,000.
"On behalf of the Newton County Sheriff's Office it gives me and my staff great pleasure to accept the COPS hiring grant for $901,490. The grant award will allow us to hire additional officers and fill gaps created by budgetary cuts. This is the second time we have been awarded this prestigious award," said NCSO Sheriff Ezell Brown. "The Newton County Sheriff's Office is the only sheriff's office in the state of Georgia to receive this award and one of 30 in the nation. This speaks volumes about the professionalism at the Newton County Sheriff's Office, as well as the leadership. A special thanks to Congressman Hank Johnson and his support for the Newton County Sheriff's Office."
NCSO spokesman Lt. Keith Crum said the funds will be used to hire seven new employees.
"The sheriff is very excited ... He will present the grant before the Board of Commissioners for final acceptance and we're looking forward to them accepting the grant and being able to implement it," Crum said.
According to a press release from the Justice Department, 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.
"Today, we step up our support for recent veterans by offering them the chance to pursue meaningful careers in law enforcement," said Attorney General eric Holder. "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."
Nationwide the grants will fund more than 600 new law enforcement positions and save an additional 200 positions recently lost or in jeopardy of being cut due to local budget restraints, the release states.
"These grant awards will translate into nearly 30 police officer positions and will directly contribute to the safety of our communities here in Georgia," said North District of Georgia U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "I'm please for the three agencies that received these grants and am confident that the combined $3.4 million in awards will bring positive enhancements to our neighborhoods."
The COPS Hiring Program makes grants to state, local and 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.