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Town Expects Word On Federal Grant For Police in Schools

The C.O.P.S. Grant could cover costs for two police officers in Newtown's elementary schools.

In August, a $602,000 grant from the Department of Justice provided Newtown relief to the police department for many expenses from the Dec. 14 shooting through June. Now the town is hoping for a follow-up grant to cover costs for two of the full-time police officers walking the halls of Newtown's elementary schools.

The COPS (Community-Oriented Policing Services) Grant is expected to be announced as soon as this week, First Selectman Pat Llodra told members of the Board of Finance. Officials applied for the grant in June, one of several the town has sought since Dec. 14.

"If we're successful, we're eligible to receive enough money to place two officers in our elementary schools, whichever ones we choose," she said. "Every week I call the federal contacts to say, when are we going to hear about the grant?"

If the town elects to take the money, it would cover the costs for two officers for two years, Llodra said.

She told the board she expects an announcement on the grant by the end of this week or next week at the latest. If the status is yes, the Board of Finance will analyze it next week to find the cost/benefit and impact over time.

"I expect we'll be talking about it at the next meeting," she said.

The COPS grant is not set at a specific amount of money, but localized to cover any necessary costs for hiring officers. Before the school year began, Llodra promised "no gap" in police presence at elementary schools on the town site onenewtown.org, pledging to use available funds in the 2013-14 budget to put officers in schools even if the town fails to collect on the COPS Grant.

The $602,000 Department of Justice grant -- part of an overall $2.5 million to state and local police across Connecticut -- was a windfall for the department. Before the budget passed, Newtown's police department publicly acknowledged some strain on officers due to sick leave and overtime. An original proposal from the police commission in February called for 11 new officers to be added to the force.

"Providing support to the law enforcement agencies that responded to the horrific scene that awaited them at Sandy Hook Elementary School is one small action we can take to bring healing to a community that’s been devastated," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said when the grant was released.

The funding compensated Newtown for overtime, forensics and security between Dec. 14 and June 2013.

The town of Monroe has also applied for the COPS grant -- and Llodra said whether they receive funds or not could actually cause a ripple effect for costs in Newtown.

"Their COPS grant is going to support the police presence at the Chalk Hill building," she said. And if Sandy Hook students at Chalk Hill don't have an officer paid through a federal grant, someone will have to pick up the check locally.

"The grant for them is critical," she said. "If they are denied it, we have the obligation to pick it up."

Mark Toscano September 12, 2013 at 12:42 PM
Money should be used to purchase better body armor. Our police are outgunned and deserve the right to return home to their families safely. Sad part is we allow everyone to own high power weapons. The logic is insane. The Colorado recall is insane. We've learned nothing from these mass killings other than the world is filled with paranoid conservatives.
C J H September 12, 2013 at 12:54 PM
@ Mark- I hate to burst your bubble but almost all gun crime committed by CRIMINALS, Use small cal. rounds that the currant body armor protects against. Just another person with their head filled with the thought that people are running around with machine guns and or large cal. weapons to commit crime. Once you understand the recent laws passed in CT. were against guns used less than 1% in crime!
Newtown Lifer September 12, 2013 at 12:56 PM
So true MT, and unfortunately as long as the cowardly politians allow the NRA goons to buy them out, it will get worse. Just look at this latest IDIOTIC and disgusting bit on news. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/new-rifle-mimics-machine-gun-s-rapid-fire----and-it-s-legal-145153186.html
E.V. September 12, 2013 at 01:13 PM
How about the "gap", Ms. Llodra, in police protection and the failure of the town to equally protect St. Rose School where over 400 students and staff are every day. Most of them Newtown taxpayers. On another note are you anti-gun nuts insane? Everyone is allowed to own a high power weapon? Since when? It is true, liberals are mentally ill.
P Troy September 12, 2013 at 01:28 PM
For How Long will they fund it? The Federal Gov't is famous for funding the START of a new position then the Year 2 and beyond costs are handed over to us Tax Payers and usually escallate....I agree additional Security is always a good thing. But taking money to temporarily provide it will cause bigger problems down the road!
James September 12, 2013 at 02:23 PM
P. Troy of course it will this town government is nuts. They raise taxes for a over staffed Police Dept. when they just reprimanded a LT on the force for showing up a hour after the call to sandy hook elementary, he was on traffic duty, what a disgrace! Secondly, to have Pat Lorda run unopposed is a slap in the face to democracy. Just a few more years and you yuppies can have this town all to your over taxed self's
Cheryl Lynne O September 15, 2013 at 01:37 AM
Mother NRA knows best. Or, to borrow a line from an African-American Comedy movie, would that be " Big Mamma NRA"? That should be the motto behind having more of those " Good guys with guns in schools" to prevent " Bad guys from shooting up schools". As proven down in Texas someplace, having more cops in the schools only serves one purpose; to arrest more kids for everything from using so-called " obscene" language; to throwing a temper tantrum and/or slitting their wrists because they hate themselves and their Reagan-Republican parents. If having more cops in schools really deters school shooters, why doesn't CANADA do this? Gasp! It couldn't be those tighter gun regulations now, could it????

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