By Desiree Johnson
Killeen Daily Herald
The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program has awarded Killeen, Temple and Bell County with funding of just over $100,000.
Funding from JAG can be used for state and local initiatives, technical assistance, training, personnel, equipment, supplies, contractual support and informational systems.
"These funds will assist local law enforcement officials with the resources necessary to crack down on crime in the area," U.S. Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced Thursday.
In order to secure the grant, the three local law enforcement entities combined forces to decide on who would administer an application for the grant and how much each department would receive.
The amounts were determined by a formula based on crime rates, coverage areas, and other criteria.
"It used to be that each individual agency applied, and in the early '90s, funding was as high as $50,000," said Chuck Cox, a lieutenant for the Bell County Sheriff's Office. "Since then, they only give out blocks of money and funding has been significantly cut."
Capt. Lee Caufield,
chief of staff with the Killeen Police Department, said the amount of funding moves up and down.
"It's actually increased from last year," Caufield said. "The grant has been in place for quite a few years under different names, and it allows us to afford things that we traditionally have not been able to manage in our budget."
Killeen received the bulk of the funds, just over $79,000. The city plans to purchase computer hardware, software, networking equipment and 12 months of wireless networking service.
The broadband connection will allow easier communication between the mobile data computers in police cars and officers working in the field or in the office.
"It's a starter program. Once we get everything in place, we'll use the budget to keep it going," Caufield said. "The grant is fundamental – the real inspiration is how you use it."
Temple plans on using its $15,791 to purchase tactical surveillance systems to increase officer safety and response times. Bell County, which received $9,500, is hoping to support increased security through its employees.
"In the past we received enough to hire new people, but that is no longer the case," Cox said. "This will, however, help us cover overtime costs."
Cornyn commended local authorities for taking the initiative in gaining these grants.
"Having the proper tools to fight crime is critical to keeping our communities safe, and I applaud the local leaders for working to secure this funding," Cornyn said.
Contact Desiree Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559