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On June 1, the Colonial Beach Town Council voted unanimously to submit a grant proposal to the U.S. Department of Justice that would help pay for the hiring of one additional police officer.   

The DOJ allows state, local, and tribal governments to apply for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Grant in order to increase the number of police officers throughout the country.

The COPS Hiring Grant offers a maximum of $125,000 per officer position to be paid over a three-year period. The money covers up to 75% of salary and fringe costs, such as benefits, healthcare, retirement, etc. for all police officers hired under the grant. Equipment and training costs are not included under the grant provisions.

The federal grant funding cuts off after the third year, and the grant recipient is contractually obligated to cover the full cost of the added positions for the fourth year.

Colonial Beach Grants Manager J.C. LaRiviere said the greatest equipment expense associated with hiring a new officer would be the purchase of their vehicle, which would cost the town $52,000.

The decision to submit a COPS Hiring Grant application will not obligate the town to accept the funding if it is awarded. LaRiviere said that the town council has until October to decide if it wants to accept the funding to hire an additional officer.

LaRiviere believes the town has nothing to lose by applying for a COPS Hiring Grant.

“It’s more prudent to try than not because with these kinds of major programs where people have been applying for years, sometimes it’s best to just get in line,” LaRiviere said.

LaRiviere also said that the grant proposal is partially in response to the growth of the town’s full-time residents from 3,500 to 3,900 people.

“We’re the only locality that’s growing in the entire Northern Neck if you look at the numbers. So, we’re facing a unique situation in that regard,” LaRiviere said.

But some councilmembers expressed apprehensions regarding the grant funds.

“My concern with this is that it’s not free money. It’s money that costs something. And we need to watch how many costs we’re absorbing with these grants,” Councilmember Tom Moncure said during the June 1 work session.

Also in attendance at the work session was Colonial Beach Chief of Police Gregory Deaver, who said that the police force is most understaffed during the summer when the town’s population increases substantially.

“We have a minimum of two officers working at any time and potentially up to three or four working in the evening hours with a supervisor,” Deaver said. “We are drastically short of where we need to be with our summertime population of 10 to 12 thousand.”

According to Deaver, the Colonial Beach Police Department currently has 13 full-time officers. Deaver said he’d like to eventually build the police force to at least 18 full-timers.

Colonial Beach could hire an additional police officer if the town is awarded grant funding from the Department of Justice