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Stimulus money could help local law enforcement agencies

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Ted Sullivan
February 22, 2009
— Local law enforcement agencies hope to get a slice of the federal economic stimulus package to hire officers, buy equipment and fight a growing heroin problem.

The $787 billion package is designed to help the struggling economy, including $3.7 billion nationwide for agencies such as the Rock County Sheriff’s Office and Janesville Police Department.


Sheriff Bob Spoden and Deputy Police Chief David Moore said they would pursue money for their agencies to help their budgets during tough economic times.


Any money the agencies receive could save local taxpayers money, Moore said.


“When you have budgets as tight as ours … it’s a considerable value,” he said.


Stimulus money will go toward shovel-ready projects, health care and energy development, but law enforcement officials argue they are an important part of recovering from the economic crisis, Spoden said.


If law enforcement isn’t funded, the crime rate could increase and deter new companies from locating in Rock County, he said.


The sheriff’s office will seek money to curb the growing heroin problem in Rock County, Spoden said.


People need to be educated about heroin use in order to intervene before an overdose death, he said.


“That’s something that we really want to focus on here in the immediate future is the drug prevention for heroin use, marijuana use and alcohol,” Spoden said.


Money also could be used locally to pay for the Rock County Special Investigations Unit, he said.


The unit, which includes the sheriff’s office and rural police departments, might be eligible for money for training and overtime pay to focus on crime issues in Rock County, Spoden said.


Money also is available to fight drug trafficking in areas such as Rock County, where drug dealers move between Chicago, Madison, Minneapolis and Milwaukee, he said.


Fifty million also is set aside to fight Internet crimes against children, and the sheriff’s office and police department might chase that money to fight online predators, Spoden and Moore said.


And a billion dollars will be doled out to hire and pay for new officers or deputies without affecting local budgets, Spoden and Moore said. Both agencies will explore their eligibility for that money.


“It will allow us to keep what we currently have and possibly hire an additional deputy sheriff,” Spoden said.


The police department wants to explore getting money set aside for crime victims such as women in abusive relationships, Moore said.


Law enforcement agencies will receive information on applying for stimulus money in the near future. They will have to compete with other agencies for funding.


LAW ENFORCEMENT STIMULUS

Federal stimulus money for law enforcement agencies includes:


-- $2 billion for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, a program designed to prevent and control crime.


-- $1 billion for Community Oriented Policing Services programs to hire and pay local police officers or deputies.


-- $225 million for Byrne competitive grants, a program to help state and local departments combat crime.


-- $225 million for Indian tribe law enforcement, a program that doesn’t affect Rock County.


-- $125 million to help rural law enforcement agencies with drug enforcement, hiring new officers and drug prevention.


-- $100 million for crime victims.


-- $50 million to fight Internet crimes against children.


-- $40 million for high intensity drug trafficking areas such as Rock County, where drug dealers move between Chicago, Madison, Minneapolis and Milwaukee.



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