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The City of Taylor continues to make safety a priority by adding key crime-fighting initiatives and staffing in the Police Department.
A Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant proposed by Mayor Rick Sollars and Police Chief John Blair was unanimously approved by City Council last night (Tuesday, February 6). The grant will allow the Taylor Police to hire four new officers, who will focus their collective efforts on multi-housing units in the community while allowing the overall department more flexibility.
The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) is the component of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for advancing the practice of community policing by the nation's state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies through information and grant resources. The COPS grant in this case will fund the cost of the new officers on a percentage basis: 75 percent the first year, 50 the second, 25 the third and then zero in the fourth year. The City of Taylor is responsible for the rest of the funding, and must keep the officers for the entire grant period. The entire four-year grant will require about $800,000 in City-related funding.
In this case, the City’s cost is being shared by the Taylor Cares Development (TCDC) Corporation, an organization setup in the 1990s to oversee the vast changes being made to the community’s southwest corridor through a bond issue. The bond has expired in 2015.
“Now that TCDC owns those properties, the apartments can share in the cost of the policing,” Mayor Rick Sollars said. “It is a win-win situation for our community.”
Mayor Sollars went on to commend U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-12th District), for playing an important role in the grant.
"I'd like to personally thank Debbie Dingell for not only supporting us with this COPS grant, but for everything that she does for the City," he said. "She is always there on our behalf."
Chief Blair, who authored the grant process, pointed out that the detail that presently patrols those areas has two officers assigned a total of 32 hours per week. It is an overtime detail. Thanks to the grant, the four new officers will patrol the properties 100 hours weekly – with another 60 hours available that can be spent elsewhere, giving the department not only more manpower, but more versatility.
The benefits of the COPS grant is obvious: police presence will be increased, offering increased community policing efforts within the complexes. Established relationships often result in a reduction of crime. Officers will meet with property management and establish relationships and goals. They will proactively engage with the community, and address quality of life issues (abandoned vehicles, problem residences, etc.). They will work flexible shifts, depending on needs, without establishing a pattern. The officers will be the primary responders in the properties, and will also be available for follow up investigations.