CAT Tracks for July 30, 2009

From the Southern Illinoisan...

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Carbondale, Cairo benefit from police grants

By Blackwell thomas, The Southern

CARBONDALE - Federal grant dollars will provide additional funding for police officers in two Southern Illinois communities.

Cairo and Carbondale received grants of $125,000 and $563,000 respectively, which will fund the positions for three years.

The grants are part of the Cops Hiring Recovery Program and will go to the departments to hire and/or rehire "career law enforcement officers in an effort to create and preserve jobs, and to increase their community policing capacity."

The grant will fund three positions in Carbondale and one in Cairo.

Carbondale Police Chief Jody O'Guinn said the city is already in the process of hiring new officers and the grant money will only help by adding three more spots.

O'Guinn said ideally the city would have 65 officers, but the department currently has five vacancies.

"We are really looking forward to being back up to full strength with our patrol division," he said. "It (the grant money) is going to get more boots on the ground for us to be able to address the quality of life issues we have to deal with on a daily basis."

Cairo and Carbondale are two of 21 Illinois cities to receive the grant out of 376 that applied. Nationally, there were 1,046 agencies that were awarded funding through the grant, which will provide 4,699 officers and almost $1 billion in funding.

Chicago led the state with a $13 million grant to fund 50 new police officers. All told, the grant provides the state about $26 million.

Cairo City Clerk Lorrie Hesselrode said the funding is much needed there.

"This is a very poor community," she said. "So it (the grant) is very significant."

Hesselrode added that it's often a struggle for the police department to have two of its eight officers working at the same time.

"It's extremely dangerous to have one officer on duty by himself," she said. "If you can maintain having two on at a time, it's beneficial to the citizens and the police themselves."