Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – The City of Española is getting over $400,000 in federal funds to add additional police officers to its department.
The funds are part of more than $139 million in grant funding from the federal Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and COPS Hiring Program, the department announced in a recent news release.
“The awards provide direct funding to 183 law enforcement agencies across the nation, allowing those agencies to hire 1,066 additional full-time law enforcement professionals,” the release states.
The Ramah Navajo Chapter, in the west-central part of the state, was the only other New Mexico entity to be funded, to the tune of $404,208. Española received $431,440.
“CHP is a competitive award program intended to reduce crime and advance public safety through community policing,” the release states.
“CHP provides funds directly to law enforcement agencies to hire new or rehire additional career law enforcement officers, thereby increasing their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts,” the release said.
Española Police Chief Roger Jimenez said his department plans to use the funding for more officers to help combat violent crime.
“It’s pretty narrow on what we can do with it,” Jimenez said in a phone interview. “We are right now talking among the command staff and the other employees on exactly what we are going to use that for, whether it’s going to be to increase patrol or for detectives.”
The grant funds can be used either for addressing gun violence or other areas of violence, building trust between law enforcement and communities or “combating hate and domestic extremism or supporting police-based responses to persons in crisis,” the DOJ news release states.
The area his department wants to concentrate on “is definitely violent crime,” Jimenez said.
The department recently acquired license plate readers, which the chief said is significant because stolen vehicles and stolen license plates are often used to commit other crimes. Jimenez added that he hopes to use the grant to increase patrols or hire more detectives.
A previous Department of Justice grant allowed the department to add two officers giving the department 28 sworn officers, Jimenez said.
“It’s always been a goal of mine (to have more officers) just so we can start doing some proactive things in the community whether it’s police work or a community resource officer and building the community policing program,” Jimenez said.
The chief noted that crime has increased overall across the country.
“Here in a small community like this … you get one violent crime and statistically speaking that puts you in a higher percentage or a higher rating than some of these bigger cities that have more crime,” the chief said.
Drug use with the property crimes associated with it ties into the violent crime problem, Jimenez added.
For fiscal year 2021 the COPS program “received 590 applications requesting nearly 3,000 law enforcement positions,” the DOJ stated.