The Jackson Police Department (JPD) is currently receiving funds through the COPS Fast Grant and the COPS Universal Hiring Program (Universal Grant), a program to supplement the COPS Fast Grant. A total of two police officers are currently funded by these grants. The JPD police officer funded under the COPS Fast grant will be referred to as the COPS Fast officer and the JPD police officer hired under the Universal Grant will be referred to as the COPS Universal officer.
The grant manuals state that the COPS grants were intended to be used to hire additional officers over and above what the Department would otherwise hire. The funds provided under the COPS grants were not to be used to replace local funds that would have been used to hire new officers. The COPS funds were to be used solely to supplement existing funded officer positions.
The additional officers provided under the COPS grants were to be used for community oriented policing. The concept of community policing stresses the importance of police- citizen cooperation to fight crime. As detailed in the grant manuals, this includes increased interaction between law enforcement officers and members of the public. The application materials for the grants required detailed explanations of the community oriented policing services to be offered by the department and its grant officers.
Both grants were to provide three years of partial reimbursement for the salaries of officers hired under the grants. The Federal funds would cover up to 75% of the total salaries and benefits for grant officers over the three year period. The grant manuals state that the Federal payment must decrease and the local share must increase each year. This allowed law enforcement agencies to gradually assume the burden of paying for the additional officers. The grants require that local authorities make a "good faith effort" to retain officers hired under the grant after the three year term has ended.
In late 1994, JPD submitted an application for a COPS Fast grant which was approved in early 1995. On July 1, 1995, a full-time police officer was hired to fill the COPS Fast Grant position. The COPS Fast officer signed a contract which noted that she was hired as a community policing officer.
The hiring of the COPS Fast officer brought the Department's staffing up to ten officers. From July 1, 1995 until August 22, 1995, JPD continued to employ a total of ten full-time officers. Since August 22, 1995, JPD has employed a total of nine or fewer officers.
JPD submitted an application for the Universal Grant in August 1995. The application stated that the authorized sworn force strength as of May 1, 1995 was nine. However, the City Employee Classification/Wage Schedule for Fiscal Year 1994-1995 showed an authorized force strength of ten. On the application the question "Are you requesting a waiver of the local match requirements based upon extraordinary local fiscal hardship" was marked "no."
The request for the Universal Grant was approved in May 1996. In June 1996, the COPS Universal officer was "re-hired" to fill the newly awarded grant position. This officer was originally hired as a full-time officer a year earlier in June 1995. At that time the officer was hired as a "provisional officer" and was required to meet the Basic Academy requirements within 18 months. The COPS Universal officer continued to perform the same patrol duties as she had before June 1996. She has worked primarily graveyard and swing shifts.
In June 1996 JPD employed nine full-time law enforcement officers. No additional officers were hired to fill the position of the re-hired officer who was moved into the Universal Grant position and no waiver of the required staffing level was sought at that time. As previously noted, since June of 1996 JPD has employed a total of nine or fewer officers.
The City Manager was informed by the Chief that the COPS Office had approved the re- hire to fill the COPS Universal position. The City Manager no longer has any memorandum regarding this information. He stated that he destroys many of the memos sent between himself and the Chief.
The City Manager stated that in June 1996 he was not aware that the grants required JPD to maintain a certain staffing level and was only concerned with whether or not a current employee could be re-hired under the grant. The City Manager stated that he had not read the grant manuals or conditions of the grant. The quarterly salary reimbursement requests signed by the City Manager states that he certifies, to the best of his knowledge and belief, "that Federal moneys spent and to be spent are for the purposes set forth in the COPS grant award documents." He stated that when he signs the grant documents he is relying on the Chief or officer who prepares the documents to make sure everything is in order.
The COPS Universal officer was never asked to sign a contract stating she was hired under a grant. The duties of a community oriented police officer under the grant were not discussed with her. There is nothing in the officer's file to indicate that she was hired under a grant or was serving as a community oriented policing officer. The COPS Universal Grant officer was not informed of being re-hired under the grant until April 1997 during a meeting with the City Manager.
The Universal Grant manual states that all personnel hired under the grant were to receive training in community policing no later than one calendar year following the grant award. The COPS Universal officer has not received this training. The Chief stated that he felt the officer had sufficient experience.
All COPS Grant paperwork was handled by the Chief, City Manager and COPS Fast officer. The COPS Universal officer was never asked to handle any of the grant paperwork.
The plans submitted by JPD to the COPS Office for each grant showed that an increasing share of local funds would be paid toward the officer's salary each year. However, neither plan for the use of the funds has been followed. Rather than using an increasing share of local funds to contribute to the salaries of the grant officers, the City has been using the grant funds to fully pay the salaries of the officers.
Although the grant positions are intended to run through 1999, the Federal funds will run out before then. The Chief said that the full use of the Federal funds before paying any local share was acceptable to the COPS Office. There is no written memorandum detailing when or from whom he received this information. The COPS Fast manual states that the matching local funds may be applied at any time during the life of the grant.
The JPD Police Officers Association (POA) is a collective bargaining unit that represents the officers in their negotiations with the City. A little over a year ago, a POA member had contacted the Chief regarding the staffing levels required by the grants. The City of Jackson Employee Classification/Wage Schedules for fiscal years 1994-1995 and 1995-1996 both show ten peace officer positions authorized by the City. Ten peace officer positions were authorized at the time each of the grant positions were filled. The POA felt that the COPS officers were required to be over and above the number of authorized positions.
The Chief stated that the actual number of funded positions for law enforcement officers was always subject to change by the City Manager. The Chief felt that the number of sworn officers employed at that time was sufficient based on the City Manager's allocation of peace officer positions. The Chief did not contact the COPS Office to follow-up the POA concerns at that time.
Concerns about staffing levels required under the grants were again raised by the POA during an April 1997 meeting with the City Manager. The COPS Universal officer, who was present at the meeting, expressed surprise when the City Manager mentioned her status as a grant officer. The City Manager asked the Chief to call the COPS Office to determine whether or not there was a problem with the current staffing level at the Department. The COPS Office was not contacted until after the Grand Jury had requested to speak to officers regarding the grants.
After being contacted by the Chief, the COPS Grant Office informed JPD that the Department was required to have a total of ten sworn law enforcement officers. This total includes the Chief and the two COPS positions. As of May 1997, the Department employed a total of eight officers and was about to bring on the ninth in the middle of June which would leave it one short of the required number of officers.
On May 30, 1997, the City Manager submitted a waiver request to the COPS Office. The waiver request states that an additional officer position was added after the COPS Universal Grant was received bringing the staffing level to a total of nine officers. The waiver requests that the total number of officers required under the grants be reduced to nine. If the waiver request is denied, the City Manager intends to find the money to hire an additional officer.
Both the Chief and City Manager agree with the determination of the COPS Office that JPD does not currently meet the staffing levels required under the grants.
JPD has not been in compliance with the staffing levels required by the COPS Grants. As of June 13, 1997, JPD was still below the staffing levels required by the grants.
JPD had nine full-time police officer positions funded in July and August 1995.
JPD had eight full-time peace officer positions funded from September 1995 to May 1996.
The COPS Universal officer was not aware that she was placed in a grant position.
The duties of the COPS Universal officer did not change to reflect her community policing role after she was placed in the grant position.
The City does not appear to be financially prepared to assume responsibility for the grant officers' salaries after the grant funds are exhausted.
The receipt of future grants by JPD and the City of Jackson depends on the proper administration of the current grants.
The current COPS Universal officer be re-instated in a non-grant position to help bring the Department up to the number of officers required under the grants.
The new COPS Universal officer sign a contract reflecting the grant position and perform all the duties required of an officer hired under the COPS Universal Grant.
All officers hired under a grant have signed documentation in their personnel file acknowledging the grant.
The Chief be directly involved in the ongoing administration of all grants. This includes personal review and responsibility for all applications, quarterly reports, grant officer contracts, et cetera.
The Chief review and approve by initial all grant documentation sent to the City Manager for signature.
JPD and the City prepare and preserve written memorandum regarding opinions obtained from agencies supplying grants.
The City develop a plan to be financially prepared for employing the grant officers for the full three-year term provided under the grant after the Federal funds are exhausted.
The City be prepared to make a good faith effort to retain the grant officers after the expiration of the grants.