Jonesboro receives more than $1 million in grants

by George Jared ( 153 views 

The city of Jonesboro has received five grants totaling almost $1.4 million during the past month. The federal and state grants will provide bulletproof vests, body-worn cameras, technology upgrades and enhanced speed and DUI enforcement for police officers, and assistance for low-income housing rehabilitation and first-time homeowners.

The city’s portion of these grants is $337,874, much of will come from in-kind services, while the federal share is $1.056 million and the state is providing $2,000.

“I am proud of our Community Development and Grants Department, as well as the Police Department, for ensuring we find every avenue to save local taxpayer dollars,” Mayor Harold Perrin said. “As I’ve made clear before, we cannot run Jonesboro on sales tax alone, and this is grant money that would go elsewhere if we didn’t make the effort to find it.”

Police Chief Rick Elliott said the body-worn cameras were provided free this year, and JPD has seen an improvement in public interactions he credits to the equipment. The total grant for the cameras is $600,000. The bulletproof vests, body cameras and technology grants are provided by the U.S. Department of Justice. Both require a 50% match, whether by cash or in-kind services. A Selective Traffic Enforcement Program grant will provide $102,700 for increased policing of seatbelt, speeding, DWI/DUI and child safety-seat enforcement. The city’s match is $18,700.

“It’s been pointed out nationwide that once an officer wears a camera, they’re always on their best behavior. And when the public realizes they are being videoed, they are on their best behavior,” Elliott said. “Our officers have given great feedback, and we have found that wearing cameras has reduced the number of situations that could go bad.”

The Jonesboro Police Department has diligently enforced the state’s seat belt laws, and it’s one of the reasons the city received these grants, said Jonesboro Director of Community Development and Grants Tiffny Calloway.

“We were one of the top cities in the state for seatbelt enforcement and were recognized by the Arkansas Department of Transportation for our work,” Calloway said. “This year we’re receiving more money for the grant than in the past, and we will be able to enforce more.”

Elliott said the grant means additional eyes will be on city streets while other officers respond to non-motorist calls.

Calloway said $622,310 received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will go in part to low and income home rehabilitations and first time home buyers. A portion of the HUD grant will be used to improve sidewalks on Patrick Street.

“We are also able to provide funding to non-profit organizations,” she said. “This year we are assisting Habitat for Humanity, the Hispanic Center, West End Neighborhood Association and Mid-South Health Systems.”