Lincoln applied for - and got - enough federal economic stimulus money to add four officers to the Lincoln Police Department.

That doesn't mean it's a sure thing four more men and women in blue will be patrolling city streets.

The grant for $679,136 would pay the salary and benefits for three years. After that, all police departments receiving the grants are required to retain the grant-funded positions for at least one more year.

Spokeswoman Diane Gonzolas said the mayor's office is checking the city's ongoing obligation and cost.

Lincoln Police Chief Tom Casady said previous federal grants to add cops paid for $25,000 per officer per year. An officer's salary and benefits costs the city about $54,000 a year, he said.

"The difference with the stimulus grants is that they're near 100 percent of starting salary and benefits, but that goes up," he said.

Casady said 7,272 agencies applied for grants totaling $8.3 billion for nearly 40,000 officers through the stimulus bill. The roughly $1 billion awarded will pay for 4,699 officers. Nebraska agencies asked for money to pay for 124 officers; money was granted for 24, Casady said.

He said Lincoln's request described crime data and the city's financial condition.

"Despite some of the conventional wisdom, Lincoln has a significant crime rate, largely because we're a big city," he said. "We enjoy a high quality of life, but we have a lot of property crime and we have more than average violent crime, too."

The chief said Lincoln has enjoyed much success in asking for federal money for police.

"Every single police officer we've added since 1993 we've added with a federal grant," he said. "And in every case we've been careful not to take on expenses we weren't able to service long-term. ... A police officer is a pretty long-term investment."

In 1993, he said, the department had 248 officers. Today, it has 317.

"If you're the mayor, you have to know the City Council is willing to take on the financial commitment, too," Casady said. "It's easy to say we'll increase (the force) but tough to say in three years, now we're going to reduce.

"I think we're in pretty good shape on this, so I'm pretty optimistic."

Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the grants Tuesday to come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Nebraska's share is $5.1 million and goes to these places in addition to Lincoln.

  • Omaha Tribe Police Department: $170,381 for one officer.
  • Omaha: $4,013,500 for 20 officers.
  • Dawson County: $103,654 for one officer.
  • Beatrice Police: $158,607 for one officer.

Reach Catharine Huddle at 473-7222 or chuddle@journalstar.com.

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