Jonesboro receives $1.29 million in grants, will add additional police officers

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 221 views 

Jonesboro will add two new full-time officers after it received the Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing (COPS) grant. The grant is worth $330,000 and it will provide 75% of all costs related to the hire of the new officers during a three-year period. The local match is $83,000.

Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott said the new officers will be employed in the patrol division. When the officers will start their new jobs hasn’t been determined.

“The chance to add two officers to the force, and the opportunity to have it funded, is savings to the city and a boon to our department,” he said.

The COPS grant was part of the $1.29 million in state and federal grants the city has received in the last month. These grants provide a critical supplement to city budgets and help city leaders provide better services for residents, Mayor Harold Perrin said.

Other grants received since mid-October include a Community Development Block Grant of $584,000 to be used for the housing, community development, and assistance of low and moderate income residents; a Transportation Alternative Program grant that will provide the bicycle/walking trail connecting downtown with the Arkansas State University campus; and a Bullet Proof Vest Partnership grant that provides JPD with 35 vests.

“We are always looking for extra ways to fund projects and ease the burden on our citizens, and our staff has done a wonderful job finding ways to supplement our sales tax dollars,” Perrin said.

JPD rotates its stock of bullet-proof vests on a five-year basis. Each officer wears one while on duty and the oldest ones are replaced every year, according to the manufacturer. The $25,000 grant requires a 50% city match.

The CBDG grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is one the city receives directly because of Jonesboro’s status among Arkansas “entitlement cities.” That status is grandfathered in for cities of population above 50,000.

“Our grants department, in partnership with the CDBG Citizens Advisory Committee, has identified five nonprofit organizations that will benefit directly from this funding,” Director of Community Development Tiffny Calloway said. “These federal funds will also be used for projects including homeless assistance, home rehabilitation, and first-time home buyers’ assistance.”

The grant, totaling $449,770, includes a $99,954 local match. It will address Jonesboro’s ongoing desire to connect its downtown and university with a safe, accessible pathway for residents and ASU students.

“This is a component of our master bicycle and walking trail that is currently under development,” Perrin said previously. “Now we’re working with the university to make it a team effort.”

The city applied for the grant after a survey determined that 47% of Jonesboro residents identified the trail as the city’s top priority for ArDOT funding. The route of the trail has not been determined. Perrin said the city is working with ASU to determine the best route for the walking/bicycle path to take. When construction will begin on the project has not been determined.