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News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Springfield City Council OKs Money for More Officers

City of Springfield

Springfield will see more officers on the city’s streets.  Springfield City Council has given its approval to a bill accepting a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.  The COPS Hiring Program Grant will provide 75 percent of the funding and benefits for 11 full-time officers for three years, according to Springfield police chief, Paul Williams.  The city must match 25 percent.

He said the grant will eventually bring the total of officers in the city up to 352.

"Which had been our target for the last few years.  At 160,000 population, our target is 2.2 officers per 1000, which is 352," he said.

The city will set aside a third of the cost of paying for the officers once the grant money runs out each year for three years, he said.  That, plus the city’s matching share of the grant comes to around $600,000 a year.

Williams says the grant process was highly competitive and involved looking at a department’s commitment to community policing, what it would do with the officers, commitment from the community and crime rate.

"Fortunately, we ranked very high on the community policing spectrum.  We also ranked very high, unfortunately, on our crime rate compared to some other cities that put in for this," he said.

According to Williams, only 18 percent of grant requests nationwide were awarded funding.

Council member Phyllis Ferguson congratulated Chief Williams on being chosen to receive grant money.

"I just wanted to express my appreciation to you and your department for your fine work in getting the grant and congratulate you and let you know that we are waiting with open arms for your folks in 2017 to show up in bigger numbers," she said.

Council voted unanimously to accept the grant.

Six of the new officers will be assigned to the center city zone, and five will be assigned to the evening shift traffic unit.

Williams expects the new recruits to begin training in August 2016, and they’ll be on the streets in May 2017.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.