P hiladelphia, PA — Congressman Eliot Engel pictured right), an original co-sponsor of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, is pleased to see the U.S. Department of Justice Office award the City of Mount Vernon funding through the COPS Hiring Recovery Program. Mt. Vernon will receive $1,877,700 to hire 10 additional police officers. This is funding made available by the historic American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The funding award was announced today in Philadelphia by Vice President Joe Biden (pictured left).
“I am pleased to see Mt. Vernon receive funding to hire additional police officers. Adding 10 more officers to the force will help Mount Vernon’s finest better patrol the city and improve on their already outstanding job performance,” said Rep. Engel.
However, Rep. Engel questioned why New York City, Rockland County, Yonkers and other surrounding regions have inexplicably been left out. “Once again, New York City, which shoulders the burden of constantly facing down terrorist threats, is denied funding because of good performance. New York’s crime rate is down, and our city budget is stable, so we wind up being punished for being successful,” said Rep. Engel. “New York has unique challenges which require proper attention, and for a determination of this magnitude to be made based on perverse statistics is an outrage.”
In addition to the exclusion of New York City, Rep. Engel is just as upset with the lack of any funds being sent to Rockland County. “You don’t have to be in a big city to face substantial crime threats. There was a plot to attack flights out of Newburgh recently, plus the various school shootings in the wake of Columbine 10 years ago all took place in suburban settings. Rockland County also has the unique situation of being in the New York Metro region and thus shares the burden of New York’s status as Enemy Target #1. Rockland County’s various town and village police forces, and the Sheriff’s Department, do an outstanding job in protecting its citizens and I would like to see them have their work be bolstered by these types of grants,” said the 11-term Congressman, whose district includes Ramapo, Orangetown and the lower half of Clarkstown.
He added, “I am also equally curious how a suburban city such as Yonkers received nothing. The logic escapes me on this one. We fought to get this funding in the budget, and I believe there should be better coverage of the areas facing the most challenges.”
The grants will provide 100 percent of the approved salary and benefits for entry level officer positions over a three year period. Police departments receiving the grants will then be required to retain the grant funded positions for a fourth year. For more information about the grants, or to learn which law enforcement agencies received funding, please visit www.cops.usdoj.gov.
“I co-sponsored the COPS program so each of our cities could receive a fair share and better protect our citizens. Regions around the nation were included, including funding for territories. While I encourage the efforts to protect Americans living in Guam, I wonder how and why they are on the list of recipients while our biggest city is left off,” said Rep. Engel.