The Placer County Sheriff’s Office will be able to hire eight deputies to help combat the cultivation and use of illegal drugs throughout the county with a $2.6 million grant announced by federal officials Wednesday.
“This is great news for our county and its residents,” said Vice Chair Jennifer Montgomery of the Placer County Board of Supervisors. “Placer County’s grant will allow the Sheriff’s Office to add eight front-line deputies and will cover 100 percent of the funding for salaries and benefits over the next three years.”
“We are truly excited,” Sheriff Edward N. Bonner said. “Placer County has a proven track record of successful regional collaborations with our law enforcement partners, schools and communities. Over the years, many public safety departments have faced budget constraints. We currently have 25 front-line deputy vacancies. We believe that, with the restoration of some of these positions and our continued efforts within the county, we can have a significant impact on the youth of our community.”
The grant funds will be used to launch a multi-agency project that will:
* Expand communications with community-resource networks and strengthen working relationships with schools, nonprofit social service agencies, and other law enforcement agencies;
* Equip deputies working in the field with a better drug-related database;
* Conduct public forums to heighten public awareness of drug issues in local communities;
* Strengthen community oriented policing by expanding the Sheriff’s Special Investigations, Special Operations and Air Operations teams;
* Develop stronger partnerships with minority communities; and
* Help prevent youth drug abuse and protect youths from drug-infested environments through a host of strategies, including an expansion of educational programs in schools.
The Sheriff’s Office is proposing the introduction of an anti-drug program called “The Drug Store” in local middle schools. The program includes anti-gang and anti-bullying curriculum and is similar to “Every 15 Minutes,” the widely acclaimed program that educates youths on dangers associated with driving while impaired or texting.
Placer County’s grant is part of almost $72 million in grant funds awarded to local governments throughout California by the Office of Community Oriented Policing, a branch of the U.S. Department of Justice. Nationwide, the office is awarding more than $243 million in grants to 238 law enforcement agencies and municipalities through its 2011 COPS Hiring Program.
The program uses a competitive process to allocate grant funding among state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies. This year, the program received more than 2,700 applications seeking more than $2 billion in grant funding.
The program’s main goal is to provide funding so agencies can hire additional officers needed to address law enforcement challenges identified by the agencies.
“In Placer County, we teamed with the courts and school officials to develop a collaborative plan for addressing drug problems in our county,” Vice Chair Montgomery said. “Getting these new deputies into the community will make a big difference in protecting our youth from drugs.”
Placer County’s grant proposal was developed by the Sheriff’s Office and County Executive Office in cooperation with other county departments, the Placer County Superior Court, Placer County Office of Education and other local agencies. Holland & Knight, the law firm that serves as Placer County’s advocate in Washington, D.C., provided significant assistance in the grant-preparation process and reinforced the benefits of collaborative, regionally based approaches.
The grant application emphasized that Placer County has allocated considerable funding over the years to combat drug abuse through both investments in law enforcement activities and social service programs. The Sheriff’s Office works closely with other departments such as Health and Human Services, Probation and the District Attorney’s Office.
COPS bases funding decisions on:
* The commitment of agencies to community policing,
* Crime rates,
* Changes in law enforcement budgets and
* Fiscal data such as poverty, unemployment and foreclosure rates.