Lawmen ask for continued grants while in D.C.

Published 8:38 pm Saturday, February 8, 2014

Vicksburg and Warren County’s law enforcement leaders are asking Mississippi’s congressional delegation to continue funding vital public safety grant programs.
Sheriff Martin Pace and Vicksburg police Chief Walter Armstrong were among the 16 community leaders who traveled to Washington D.C., Sunday to meet with Mississippi’s four representatives and two senators to present ideas that would benefit Warren County.
“Having the opportunity to speak no only with our entire congressional delegation but to their staff who are actually responsible for a lot of the day-to-day workings of the office, makes the trip to Washington worthwhile,” Pace said.
Central for both the police and sheriff’s departments was continued support in the nation’s capital for the Justice Assistance Grant program. Under the program federal funding is split between the city and county.
In fiscal 2013, the agencies split a grant of $26,140 from the U.S. Department of Justice, and in FY 2012 they received $32,428.
“They were very accessible and did pledge to help us in any way they can,” Armstrong said of the congressional response. “We would like to see them return funding to pre-9/11 levels.”
Money received though the grant is not labeled for a specific purpose, which allows departments to tweak the grant to meet their individual needs, Pace said.
“In just the last five years, Warren County Sheriff’s Office has been able to use utilize over $100,000 in Justice Assistance Grant funding to purchase everything from a new patrol car to new handheld radios,”  he said.
VPD receives federal funding though the Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, grant to pay the salary of several officers.
“It allows us to hire up to four officers as long as we have gone above the budgeted number of officers on the force,” Armstrong said. “We’ve had that funding for about three years, and have another left on it. There’s a quarter of a million dollars left to spend.”
VPD also receives federal funding for seat belt enforcement and education and for training officers to respond to violence against women, Armstrong said.
“It certainly helps shore up some of the city funds,” he said.