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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 27, 2013

U.S. Attorney Announces Hiring Grants For School Safety Officers In Bethlehem

PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), today announced funding awards for the Bethlehem Police Department.  The Department is being allotted $625,000 for the hiring of five school resource officers.

“In the wake of past tragedies, it's clear that we need to be willing to take all possible steps to ensure that our kids are safe when they go to school,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “These critical investments represent the Justice Department's latest effort to strengthen key law enforcement capabilities, and to provide communities with the resources they need to protect our young people. Especially in a time of increased challenges and limited budgets, our top priority must always be the safety and well-being of our children.”

Overall the COPS Office funded awards to 263 cities and counties, aimed at creating 937 law enforcement positions.  More than $125 million will be awarded nationally, including nearly $45 million to fund 356 new school resource officer positions. Bethlehem will hire one resource officer for the high school and four officers for the middle school.

“Keeping our children safe when they go to school is of critical importance and I am pleased to join the Attorney General and the COPS Office in announcing these grants which will help provide our communities with the resources needed to accomplish this vital mission,” said Zane David Memeger.

“Bethlehem is a safe city because we make safely a priority,” said Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan. “The additional police officers in our schools will help ensure our dedication to public safety, as well as increase our interaction with the students in our schools in partnership with the Bethlehem Area School District.”

“We take the safety and security of our children very seriously,” said Bethlehem Police Chief Craig Finerty. “Being awarded this grant will help us improve our commitment to our community by giving us the ability to assign School Resource Officers to our schools.”   

“The COPS Office is pleased to assist local law enforcement agencies throughout the country address their most critical public safety issues,” said Joshua Ederheimer, Acting Director of the COPS Office.  “Funding from this year’s program will allow many cities and counties to apply new sworn personnel to issues related to violent crime, property crime, and school safety.”

The COPS Hiring Program offers grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire community policing officers.  The program provides the salary and benefits for officer and deputy hires for three years.

Grantees for the 2013 hiring program were selected based on their fiscal needs, local crime rates, and their community policing plans.  There was an additional focus this year on agencies requesting assistance in developing school safety programs that would include the hiring of a school resource officer.  School resource officer positions funded by the COPS Office are sworn law enforcement positions that work within a school district or facility, interacting directly with school administrators and students.   

The COPS Office is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide.  Since 1995, COPS has awarded over $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of approximately 125,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training, and technical assistance.

For the entire list of grantees and additional information about the 2013 COPS Hiring Program, visit the COPS website at www.cops.usdoj.gov.

UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, EASTERN DISTRICTof PENNSYLVANIA
Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
PATTY HARTMAN, Media Contact, 215-861-8525