A $419,010 COPS hiring grant goes before City Council Thursday.
On Tuesday, the city public safety committee gave the measure a positive recommendation.
The grant would pay 100 percent of the costs to hire two officers for three years, with the fourth year to be paid for by the city having reserved about $50,000 a year over 2013, 2014 and 2015 to cover expenses for the final unfunded year. The grant has been awarded to the city by the U.S. Department of Justice, but council must authorize acceptance or reject it.
Expected retirements are one of the primary reasons for council to accept the grant, according to city Police Chief Gregory A. Foresman. "Otherwise, it will be used by another city," he said.
"We expect about nine police officers to retire soon," Foresman said. "With this grant and through our normal hiring procedures, we will try to maintain a complement of 54 officers and at the end of the fourth year reduce that number to 52 officers."
Councilman Don Noviello called on the experienced police officers to train newcomers. He viewed such discussion between council and the administration as helping move communication forward.
"There is a value between council and the administration working together instead of acting as separate entities," he said.
Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said he could envision additional savings from his continued negotiations with the police union regarding the police contract.
"Come hell or high water the unions (in the city) will give some level of contribution toward health care," Campana said.