Adding public safety personnel was one of 18 priorities set by the Hot Springs board of directors for 2021, a goal the city hopes to achieve with a federal grant covering the cost of five new police officers.
A resolution allowing the Hot Springs Police Department to apply for a Justice Department’s Community-Based Policing Grant was on the council’s consent agenda Tuesday night. Police Chief Chris Chapmond told the board last week that the grant would be awarded in the fall.
“It’s a competitive subsidy,” he said. “There is no guarantee that we would get one position, but we would love to apply for five.”
The grant pays 75% of the salary and benefits of new officers for three years, with the city paying the balance and the full cost of the officers’ equipment. The cost of $ 58,239 to equip each police officer, including the provision of a vehicle, would be accounted for in the 2022 Police Fund budget.
The 25% city match would be budgeted in 2022, 2023, and 2024. The grant requires new agents to be retained for at least one year after funding ends.
“This is a very good way to increase our police force at a very low cost to us for the next three years,” City Manager Bill Burrough told the board of directors.
Chapmond told council the grant would allow the department to add two community police officers to patrol the 245 family units in Eastwood Gardens and Eastwood Heights and 120 senior units in Mountain View Heights. All 365 units are owned by Mountain View Heights LP, the partnership that the Hot Springs Housing Authority formed with The Bennet Group in 2018 that converted all of the city’s public housing stock into private rental units controlled under Section 8 of the US Housing Act. from 1937.
The conversion facilitated multi-tier funding that paid for the cost of more than $ 20 million to renovate all of the city’s public housing. Four percent of the low-rental housing tax credits the Royal Bank of Canada has sold raised more than $ 17 million for renovations. They were issued by the Arkansas Development Finance Authority on the condition that the renovated homes remain accessible to low and modest income tenants for 40 years.
“I can show you the data that shows that a large percentage of our violent crime occurs in these neighborhoods,” Chapmond told the board. “We need to be there full time in terms of community policing and the ability to respond to what’s going on. “
The grant would also allow the ministry to add two officers to its community action / law enforcement team.
“It’s part of our violent crime reduction strategy,” Chapmond told the board. “They would be involved with our young people as well as in enforcement and mandate services.”
The grant would also allow for an additional officer to be assigned to the ministry’s violent crime reduction team.
Chapmond said existing officers would fill the five positions. The new grant-funded officers would fill vacancies created by internal progress.
The 2021 Police Fund budget that the council passed last year authorized 109 uniformed positions for the police service. A budget amendment to the board’s agenda on Tuesday night raised the number to 110, with the additional position enforcing the regulation of short-term residential rental activities that took effect on Tuesday.
The addition required a transfer of $ 92,387 from the general fund to the police fund to pay for six months of salary and benefits and the capital costs for the officer’s equipment. The police fund budget of $ 14.77 million that the council adopted for 2021 included a transfer of $ 8.12 million from the general fund.