A $1.5 million grant allowing the Waco Police Department to hire 12 new officers is on its way from the U.S. Department of Justice, city officials learned Thursday.
The city of Waco applied for the grant over the summer and will chip in $1.6 million in local money for the new hires over three years.
Waco Police Chief Sheryl Victorian said funding will go “to increase our presence on patrol, especially during nighttime shifts.”
“The city is growing, and the police department needs to grow with it,” Victorian said.
The department has 267 officers and about 100 support staffers.
Waco City Council members in June voted to pursue the grant being offered by a DOJ office focused on community policing. It encourages interaction between the police and neighborhoods.
The grant includes an award of $1.5 million for a three-year period, and requires a more than $1.6 million match from the city over that period, bringing the total cost to hire the officers to $3.1 million over three fiscal years. The grant also requires the department to keep the grant-funded officer positions at least another year after grant support runs out.
Council members said they like having more officers available to interact with residents, the purpose of the Neighborhood Engagement Team the city recently revived.
“This is a wonderful opportunity that helps law enforcement continue protecting and building trust with the citizens of Waco,” U.S. Attorney Ashley Hoff said in a DOJ press release announcing the grant.
Including Waco’s grant, the DOJ announced $139 million in funding that will allow 183 law enforcement agencies nationwide to hire 1,066 full-time law enforcement officials.
Victorian said 14 candidates may enter the next Waco Police Department academy in January. Candidates who make the cut will fill positions left vacant by attrition, and not necessarily increase employment, she said.
“We have attracted some very good candidates. We’re very fortunate. They’re all very passionate,” Victorian said. “Even though we’d like to have more qualified candidates on the list, we had enough this time.”
Another class is scheduled in July, she said.
“We’ll start reaching out the next couple of days, looking for good people,” Victorian said. “We’re still working on logistics.”