New YPD officers could help attack community crime
We usually think of “stimulus” money as involving efforts to boost the economy but it looks like the Yuma Police Department will benefit from a different kind of “stimulus” grant.
The Yuma City Council gave the go-ahead earlier this week for YPD to proceed with its efforts to obtain a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Program.
This federal program provides a major contribution to local police departments to hire additional officers who are to be used in community police efforts and community crime prevention programs. A portion of the cost of the new officers must come from the communities themselves in the form of matching funds.
In the case of Yuma, eight officers would be hired as part of a two-year grant.
There are three significant aspects of the program.
First, it helps Yuma put more “boots on the ground,” as YPD Chief John Lekan noted, at a lower cost than would be normal. More than half of the cost would come from the federal government.
Second, the program specifically requires the city to retain those officers at the end of the two-year period at its own cost. Some similar programs in the past have not had this requirement, resulting in reduced effectiveness when the grant runs out and officers are let go. That is a double-edged sword, of course, because it puts the city on the hook to keep paying for the officers.
Third, it helps YPD put additional focus on community policing and crime prevention instead of just reacting after the crime has been committed. It is a new way of policing that tries to head off crime before it happens. It is a more effective approach rather than simply catching criminals and punishing them.
For example, gang activity and violence are a problem here. Law-abiding citizens don't want it in their neighborhoods and will help police deal with it if there is a closer relationship and respect among police and citizens. That's community policing.
If city leaders are willing to make the necessary financial commitment, the program can be very beneficial.