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Area police departments to receive federal grant

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Posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:00 pm

By Philip Jankowski

Killeen Daily Herald

Three area law enforcement departments will receive federal grant funding to help purchase new equipment.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, announced Monday the distribution of nearly $94,000 to Killeen, Temple and the Bell County Sheriff's Office through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG).

"The JAG program allows for the purchase of equipment that would otherwise be purchased from the operating budget, so the fact that we are finding alternate funding sources for critical needs is a good thing during these difficult economic times," Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin stated in an email.

The Killeen Police Department will receive a little more than half the money - $47,360 - to purchase high-caliber assault rifles, covert surveillance equipment and computer air cards for patrol vehicles.

Baldwin said that the new rifles are in response to suspected criminals with increasingly more firepower. The computer air cards will allow police officers to file reports from the field, which Baldwin said would help reduce overtime.

But Killeen's annual grant from the federal program has declined nearly every year, except in 2009 when the department received $352,570, reports show.

In 2010, KPD was awarded $58,686 to buy video conferencing equipment to improve communications between the North Precinct and police headquarters, but the money later was spent to outfit several officers with tasers.

"Historically speaking, JAG funding has had a positive impact on our department's ability to meet equipment needs to respond to our policing mission," Baldwin said. "While it is a good program, we are seeing the funding levels decline over the years. Moreover, with the current fiscal problems in Washington, it is not certain that this type of funding will continue."

The Bell County Sheriff's Office will use its share of the grant to pay overtime to deputies.

The Temple Police Department will use its portion of the federal grant to acquire a desk officer online reporting system and an overtime management system, according to the release from Cornyn's office.

Contact Philip Jankowski at philipj@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553.

Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.

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