LYNN — The city’s police force will increase by nine officers thanks to a $1.1 million federal grant.
Last summer, as many city departments struggled with tight budgets, Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy sought funding from the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. Lynn and Holyoke were the only Bay State communities to receive the award. Nationwide, 179 cities and towns shared $98.4 million to hire 802 officers.
“This money will aid the city greatly in restoring our special units and task forces,” said Kennedy. “We should also be able to resume the much loved summer Student Police Academy once these officers have been sworn in.”
Under the terms of the grant, the city will be required to come up with $963,500 over the next three years in matching funds. In the fourth year, the city will be responsible for the full salary and benefits for the officers.
Last year, then Chief Kevin Coppinger disbanded several units, including the Warrant Task Force, the Traffic Safety Unit, and the Community Liaison Team, to fill a $4.2 million shortfall. In addition, instead of having a mix of one and two officers in cruisers, they now deploy six two-man cars.
Police Chief Michael Mageary said the grant couldn’t come at a better time. His department is operating with 164 officers, down from the peak of about 193 in 2010.
“It’s a drop in the bucket, but it’s a start,” he said. “We anticipate having as many as many as six officers retire, but this will help.”
The chief plans to select the nine offers from the Police Academy next spring.
Mageary credited Kennedy for the grant saying she gave the green light to seek the cash.
Mayor-elect Thomas M. McGee said despite the city’s $7 million deficit, his administration will find a way to pay for the new cops.
“I don’t see how we could pass up federal dollars to put nine police officers on the street,” he said. “I heard loud and clear from voters throughout the campaign that public safety is a key issue, so it’s important.”