The City of Edinburg announces a grant award of $1,000,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice. The funds from The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) will allow the City to add eight new officer positions to the Edinburg Police Department. The grant will be given over a three-year period and requires a cash match of $825,757 that have already been earmarked within the City’s General Fund.
Mayor Richard H. Garcia says this is another example of the excellent work the Holland & Knight Law Firm is doing for the City in Washington, D.C. This summer they welcomed City officials and visited the Justice Department along with numerous senators and congressman to garner support for the grant. Congressmen Ruben Hinojosa, Filemon Vela and Senator John Cornyn provided letters of support. Previously, the firm also intervened on the City’s behalf to ensure the Department of Homeland Security– U.S. Customs Division would agree to build and locate a User Fee Facility at the South Texas International Airport at Edinburg. The facility is now operational.
The grant, available to law enforcement agencies nationwide, is very competitive. The last time the City received a COPS grant was in the early 90’s. The positions created through this grant must address specific crime and disorder problems/focus areas. Edinburg PD will train these eight new officers in Community Policing. They will be dedicated solely to building and maintaining trust, partnerships and relationships with the community.
The grant is for a three year period and requires that the City maintain all sworn officer positions added, for a minimum of 12 months, following the 36-month federal funding period.
The City of Edinburg 2016-2017 Fiscal Year Budget also included nine new officer positions for the police department. Combined, the 17 new officers will enhance the Edinburg Police Department’s authorized strength to 160.
Mayor Garcia says safety is the number one priority for all cities, unfortunately budget constraints don’t always allow for the hiring of the desired personnel. “This grant covers 75 percent of the entry-level salary and benefits for each officer for the next three years. That’s free money to the City that doesn’t come out of the general fund. So we don’t have reduce other City services to pay for these new eight officers. In the end we’ll have more officers to keep our community safe and that’s what it’s all about.”