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EPD receives $109K grant to hire officer

ELKINS — The Elkins Police Department will use a federal grant of more than $100,000 to hire a new officer, officials said.

The Elkins Police Department has received a grant from the Department of Justice through the COPS Hiring Program. The local department was one of 596 agencies across the nation to receive funding. The $109,375 in funding will be used to hire an additional officer.

“The EPD is pleased to receive this funding,” EPD Chief of Police Travis Bennett told The Inter-Mountain. “It will allow us to add on an additional officer to help keep the community safer.”

Bennett said the funding will pay for 75 percent of the salary of an officer for three years.

The funding was part of the $51 million announced in May as part of Operation Relentless Pursuit.

“The Department of Justice is committed to providing the police chiefs and sheriffs of our great nation with needed resources, tools, and support. The funding announced today will bolster their ranks and contribute to expanding community policing efforts nationwide,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a press release announcing the funding. “A law enforcement agency’s most valuable assets are the men and women who put their lives on the line every day in the name of protecting and serving their communities.”

Other West Virginia Departments receiving funding includes:

∫ City of Beckley – $625,000

∫ Mercer County Sheriff’s Department – $375,000

∫ Logan County Sheriff’s Department – $373,103

∫ Corporation of Ranson – $250,000

∫ City of Spencer – $240,654

∫ Town of Terra Alta – $185,000

∫ Cabell County Sheriff’s Department – $125,000

∫ Summersville Police Department – $125,000

∫ Roane County Sheriff’s Department – $105,635

∫ Town of Elk Garden – $50,380

“I have no doubt that each recipient will put this funding to good use, enhancing the good work already being done in the name of safety for our communities. The Department of Justice is committed to protecting residents and ensuring neighborhoods are crime-free as possible,” U.S. Attorney Bill Powell said in the release.

According to the press release, the COPS Hiring Program is a competitive award program intended to reduce crime and advance public safety through community policing by providing direct funding for the hiring of career law enforcement officers. In addition to providing financial support for hiring, CHP provides funding to state, local and tribal law enforcement to enhance local community policing strategies and tactics.

“It is great to see this funding heading to support our law enforcement community, especially from such a competitive program like CHP,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va, said in a press release Thursday. “This program will help provide direct funding for the hiring of career law enforcement officers and help local police forces in West Virginia prevent crime. Keeping our communities safe is a top priority, and I will continue to deliver the resources needed to give our residents the peace of mind they deserve back home.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said the funding will help police departments to continue serving communities.

“The outpouring of community action and civic engagement across West Virginia in the last several weeks have reminded us of the consequences of poor relationships between communities and the police officers who serve them,” Manchin said in the release. “This funding invests in community policing efforts to ensure police departments across West Virginia are able to continue moving forward in serving our communities where every citizen is treated fairly in the eyes of the law, regardless of their race. Programs like this are critical to ensuring we address the systemic racism that still permeates our country and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue fighting to ensure West Virginia communities have the resources to deploy these programs.”

Congressman Alex X. Mooney, R-2nd District, said the funding is important to West Virginia police agencies.

“I’m glad this DOJ funding will support the hiring of law enforcement professionals to advance public safety and security in our communities. This grant program will provide additional resources for our police agencies in West Virginia’s Second Congressional District,” Mooney said in a prepared statement.

Throughout the country, 596 law enforcement agencies were awarded funding. This will allow an additional 2,732 additional full-time law enforcement professionals to be hired.

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