'A plus for everybody': Pharr Police Department receives federal grant to hire more officers
More growth is coming to Valley police departments as a result of a federal grant program geared toward cutting down on crime through the means of community policing.
The money is coming from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services program. There were a total of 183 recipients across the country—and six of them are in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Budgets are tough, pandemics and all those things that make our budgets tougher, well when we have something like that — to help us out — that’s a plus for everybody,” said Pharr police Chief Andy Harvey.
Almost $140 million in federal grant money was awarded across the nation, with special recognition given to applicants who focus on issues like building trust with communities and assisting those in crisis.
Police departments from Alton, Brownsville, Edinburg, Palmview, Pharr, and Weslaco are receiving funding.
The Pharr Police Department, which will receive $1.25 million, will hire an additional 10 officers to be specifically assigned to the department’s Community Engagement Unit, which houses their already-established Mental Health Unit.
“What I’ve seen the last year — specifically with those people in crisis — it has just been an amazing, amazing journey. And again, we get to add to that and do more of that,” Harvey said.
With the total number of uniformed officers soon to increase to 150, Harvey says it will allow them to serve on an even deeper level.
“We believe that helping those in crisis is good for not only the community, but the police department itself,” Harvey said. “We believe that it keeps everyone safer.”
The money will only cover the salaries of those incoming officers. The city will still have to pay for the different equipment they’ll be assigned.
As far as a timeline, Harvey says he expects the department to be fully staffed with these new officers in the next two to three months.
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