WACO, Texas — The Waco Police Department will be hiring a dozen additional officers next year after it received $1.5 million dollars in funding from the Department of Justice.
The grant is a part of the DOJ's "COPS Hiring Program", or CHP, designed to improve public safety and community policing across the country. Of 590 applicants, just 183 were awarded funding, Waco PD being one of them.
"When Waco grows, that means more people are coming in, and with more people, we need more officers to keep those people safe," said Cierra Shipley, Waco PD's public information officer.
The grant comes as the police department prepares to open its employment application on January 1. The process to apply, hire and train those officers takes about a year and a half.
Having additional officers on the force is expected to help the police department with its goals of expanding community policing and keeping crime rates low.
Waco mayor Dillon Meek told 25 News that he's excited to see police chief Sheryl Victorian's emphasis on community policing come to life.
"Members of our police force can engage and interact with our residents, and through that, I believe we have safer neighborhoods," Meek said.
In addition to improving community safety, the department hopes the grant will help take some strain off of current officers.
"The more officers we have, the more 'normal' hours, I guess you could say, these officers are able to abide by and that just means more time with family at home," Shipley said.
The typical cost of hiring a police officer is about $110,000. That includes a salary, the cose of hiring, training and equipment. The grant will cover the cost of the new officers for three years, and then their salaries will be absorbed into the police department's budget.