The global financial crisis has not been kind to public sector employees, particularly those who keep our cities safe. From Orange County to Miami-Dade, policemen and women have been laid off. According to CNN, 25 percent of cities cut their public safety funding in 2010 to deal with shortfalls. A year later, things were not much better. In 2011, 85 percent of precincts reported budget cuts, according to a Justice Department report.
Finally, however, financial relief is on its way. On Monday afternoon, the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department would be awarding $110 million to 220 cities and counties to retain and rehire police officers. The funds, part of the COPS Hiring Program, are sufficient to prevent the loss of 200 firefighters and will enable municipalities to create an additional 600 positions.
This year, the COPS Hiring Program is putting particular emphasis on bringing military veterans into the ranks of America’s police forces. As the Department of Justice pointed out in its selection methodology, each of the 600 new positions must be filled by a veteran who served at least 180 days of active duty on or after September 11, 2001.
“Our military service members represent only 1% of our population,” read the document, “but they shoulder the responsibility of protecting our entire nation. The COPS Office is committed to supporting military veterans and the law enforcement agencies that hire them as our veterans seek to transition into careers as law enforcement officers.”
Photo: U.S. Army/Flickr