The U.S. Justice Department announced Tuesday that it would provide Nashville with $8.67 million in federal grant money to put 50 new Metro Police officers on the streets.
During a press conference at the Metro County Courthouse, both Mayor Karl Dean and Police Chief Ronal Serpas publicly accepted the grant while reiterating their support for the Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS — the program that helped the city garner the funds.
“We recognized that to continue to reduce crime in Nashville, we needed to do more than maintain staffing levels,” Dean said.
Nashville competed with cities across the country for the federal grant money. Fewer than two dozen cities received the maximum funding for 50 officers, including major metropolitan areas such as Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Miami.
“While other cities may be using the funds to rehire officers…here in Nashville we have been hiring aggressively and this will be in addition to our police department,” the mayor added.
It is the first time that Metro’s police department has been expanded in more than a decade, said Serpas.
While the funding pays for new officers now, after three years Metro will be responsible for the salaries and benefits of the added staff. Dean said that he was confident that the city could absorb the extra costs.
With the funding, the total number of Metro Police employees will increase to 1,365, Serpas said.
When asked about plans to add two more police precincts — one south of the Cumberland River and one in Madison — neither official could say what impact the funding would have on staffing the proposed precincts.