DeWine announces grants to help law enforcement

COLUMBUS – The Sidney Police Department is set to receive $425,704 in grant funds, which will help with staffing level needs.

Recently, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine awarded $9.9 million to 25 local law enforcement agencies to help them strategically combat violence in their communities.

According to a DeWine press release, the grants are part of the fourth round of his Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program. To date, the governor has awarded $19.5 million to 69 Ohio law enforcement agencies to aid in their work to hold accountable the small number of criminals responsible for most violent crime in the state. A total of $58 million will be awarded as part of the grant program overall.

“My job as governor is to make sure that tools and resources are available at the local level to help our local law enforcement officers combat the violence they face,” said DeWine in the release. “These grants provide a means for local law enforcement to protect their citizens from violent crime through solid staffing levels and enhanced crime-fighting initiatives.”

Sidney Police Chief Will Balling said by email, when asked for a comment, “We have received notification that we have received a grant award from the Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program. This money was funded through the America Rescue Plan act (ARPA) and a program by Gov. Mike DeWine. The purpose of the ARPA funding is to address the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. All proposals had to demonstrate how the pandemic has negatively impacted the community and how the proposed response would mitigate that negative impact. We were notified that we received a grant for $425,704.31.”

“Due to the pandemic,” he continued “we could not fill two police officer positions and have been operating two officers short for most of that period. This grant will allow us to pay two officers’ salaries and benefits for two years. The grant will enable us to backdate the costs to April 1, 2022. Due to current staffing levels, we are already in the process of recruiting new officers. This grant will allow us to return to pre-pandemic staffing levels of 38 officers.

“Our vision statement is to exceed the expectations of our community, to adapt to the ever-changing challenges, and to provide the highest level of service and protection to our citizens. This grant will allow us to continue that service to our citizens and provide our current officers with the help they need to be proactive in their assignments and responsive to the citizens they serve. I will be working with the Office of Criminal Justice Service and our finance department to complete the process and develop the reporting mechanism to execute the grant properly,” said Balling.

DeWine’s release said agencies receiving grants to implement violent crime reduction strategies as part of the fourth round of the Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program include:

The Stark County Sheriff’s Office will receive $2,045,146.15 to partner with the Canton, Jackson Township, Alliance, Perry Township, and Massillon Police Departments to create the new Stark County Violent Crime Task Force. The multi-jurisdictional unit will deploy proactive and preventative enforcement strategies targeting problem areas known for gang-related activity and other incidents of violent crime. Each participating agency will dedicate a full-time and part-time officer to the task force for hot-spot policing, community-oriented policing, and engagement at community events.

The Lorain Police Department (Lorain County) will receive $42,845.83 to launch a directed-patrol initiative to deter gang-related crime through saturation patrols. The department will also develop a youth mentoring/gang diversion program in partnership with Lorain Men of Courage, a local nonprofit youth mentoring organization. The six-week mentoring program for at-risk youth will focus on diverting these youth from gang and school violence by offering mentoring and providing other supports to facilitate future success.

DeWine, in partnership with the Ohio General Assembly, created the Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program last year to give local law enforcement additional tools to address violence, including increases in crime associated with law enforcement retirements and resignations.

The program is funded through both the state operating budget and with ARPA funds that DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly have dedicated to first responders to counter various pressing issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including violent crime. The grants announced today are all funded through ARPA.

The program is administered by the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services within the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

SPD gets $425K in grant funds