About two dozen police officers stood in the back of the Tuesdya meeting during the discussion and final vote to accept the grant.
More officers are desperately needed, Birk said. In 1997, there were 93 sworn officers in Middletown. In 2020, there are 68. He is expecting seven to eight officers to retire by the end of 2021.
Birk said the city can save about $83,000 per officer with new hires to replace the departing senior staffers over the first five years. He said this will more than cover the cost of the city’s 25% portion for the two officers from the grant.
“I’m excited it passed and the community should be excited it passed,” Birk said.
He said he will be interviewing candidates for the open position in the coming months and the grant starts on Jan. 1, 2021.
The federal COPS grant program provides funding directly to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies for hiring officers for three years to address specific crime problems through community policing strategies, according to the U.S. Justice Department.