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The City of Chipley is looking to outside funding to bolster police capabilities.

The City Council authorized applying for a $250,000 grant that would fund two officers for five years and a separate grant to purchase a traffic radar data collector.

Chipley Police Department Lieutenant Michael Richter presented information about the grants and need for them during a City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 14.

“This is the COPS Hiring Grant,” Richter said of the grant for two officers. “Obviously, we are short-handed. This would allow us to have the proper staffing to work traffic like it needs to be worked. We will also be able to dedicate officers to be more community-oriented. We just don’t have enough time to interact with people like we should be able to and that’s something we need to be able to do and get more involved with the community.”

The COPS Hiring Grant is through the Department of Justice. It would cover up to 75% of each officer’s salary for up to three years but no more than  $125,000 in the three year period for each officer. The City would cover the remaining expenses.

“With the short staffing, scheduling is difficult,” Richter said. “This will help us a lot in many, many ways. As you know, if you’re short-handed and you’re doing a lot of different things, you can get tired. When you get tired, production tends to go down and so, hopefully, that will alleviate some of that.”

The City portions of salaries would be $51,049.84 under the first year, $55,298.86 for the second year, $59,668.78 for the third year, $147,049.04, and $152,104.86 for the fifth year.

As for the traffic radar data collector, that grant will be applied for through the tate of Florida Department of 

Law Enforcement and is called the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant.

Discussions were had at a previous City Council meeting about the need to enforce traffic and the Police Department’s challenges in doing so with a short staff.

“We’re actually using those funds to assist in identifying problem streets when it comes to things like speeding,” Richter said. “(The collector) will include a program with very detailed graphs and feedback, so that will help us–I hope–to stop chasing our tails so much, so to speak, because we get complaints all over the city. Sometimes we’re not there. We’re somewhere else, so we can’t see how big an issue is.”

Being able to collect data will enable the Police Department to see if there is an ongoing issue and direct patrol accordingly, Richter said.