COPS grant awarded to Bear Creek

Bear Creek Police Chief Eddie Collins, left, and newly hired police officer Chris Franks, with one of the new patrol cars in the police fleet. The town will begin accepting applications for officer hired under the COPS grant.

BEAR CREEK    -  Excessive overtime costs for extra hours worked by officers with the Bear Creek Police Department will now be relieved, thanks to a $103,280 COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) Hire grant through the U.S. Department of Justice.
The grant, which  requires a 25 percent match or around $12,000 from the town, will provide for the salary and benefits of an entry-level career officer, according to Police Chief Eddie Collins.
The grant actually covers three-fourths of the full-time officer’s entry level salary for a three-year period, Collins said.  The grant also covers benefits for a full-time police officer for the three year period, after which the town will have its finances regarding the police department adjusted to pick up and continue the salary for the full-time officer hired under the grant, police explained.
“We can use the money we were using that was depleting our budget (paying overtime.) We can put that toward new equipment, better training,” Collins stated.
On Nov. 2, the town received notification from the Department  of Justice that the town had been approved for funding under the COPS Hiring Program.
“At the COPS office, our mission is advancing community policing nationwide,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland noted in a press release. “We prioritize this by supporting state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement agencies as they carry out their vital public safety missions.”
The town was also commended on receiving the grant by U.S. Congressman Robert Aderholt.
“This program provides grants so that smaller departments like Bear Creek can hire additional officers,” Aderholt added. “These programs, rather than defunding police departments, do the exact opposite by helping them increase protection for citizens.”

Applications for
officer accepted
until Jan. 15

Now that the town has been approved for the funding, the town will be accepting applications until January 15, for a non-certified police officer, Collins stated.  A non-certified officer has not yet been through the law enforcement academy, Collins explained. That way, the town will pay the $4,000 to send the officer to be certified, the chief explained.
“It gives us an opportunity to bring someone in as a career officer and start from the ground up,” Collins noted.   
“It’s hard to find certified people anymore,” he added. “This gives us an opportunity to get someone certified and bring them into Bear Creek’s environment so they learn and grow in this environment.”
Collins is currently compiling a committee--comprised of himself, Mayor Rob Taylor, Investigator Jason Williams as well as a town council member and citizen - involved in the decision making of a new officer, Collins said.
“The public’s perspective is very important to me when it comes to our police officers,” Collins pointed out. “This is a community-oriented police grant.”
Plans are to have a new officer hired and sent to the academy by May, according to Collins. The officer would work a minimum of 40 hours a week, he said.



See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
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