BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C.–Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that $98,495,397 in grant funding has been awarded to 179 law enforcement agencies across the nation–including the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office. The funding was made possible through the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) COPS Hiring Program (CHP).
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office. These funds will enable deputies to work specific areas on issues that directly impact those areas. I am confident that this approach will have a very positive impact on the areas they will be working in,” Sheriff Duane Lewis stated. “I would also like to personally thank U.S. Senator Graham for his assistance with the grant process.”
Nationwide, this will allow BCSO and other law enforcement agencies to hire 802 additional full-time law enforcement officers.
“Cities and states that cooperate with federal law enforcement make all of us safer by helping remove dangerous criminals from our communities,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Today, the Justice Department announced that 80 percent of this year’s COPS Hiring Program grantees have agreed to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in their detention facilities. I applaud their commitment to the rule of law and to ending violent crime, including violent crime stemming from illegal immigration. I continue to encourage every jurisdiction in America to collaborate with federal law enforcement and help us make this country safer.”
Beth Drake, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina, applauded the Department’s continued dedication to fighting violent crime at the local level and securing communities across South Carolina.
“The COPS grants will result in the hiring of additional officers in Berkeley County, Myrtle Beach, and Spartanburg. Protecting our communities against violent criminals is paramount and we look forward to continuing these efforts and working closely with our state and local law enforcement partners.”
The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department was awarded $1,000,000 for eight new officers. The City of Myrtle Beach was awarded $1,250,000 in grant funding for the hiring of ten new officers. The Spartanburg Department of Public Safety received $244,409 which will provide for the hiring of two new officers.
CHP provides grant funding directly to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to support hiring additional law enforcement officers for three years to address specific crime problems through community policing strategies.
In September, the Justice Department announced additional priority consideration criteria for FY2017 COPS Office grants. Applicants were notified that their application would receive additional points in the application scoring process by certifying their willingness to cooperate with federal immigration authorities within their detention facilities. Cooperation may include providing access to detention facilities for an interview of aliens in the jurisdiction’s custody and providing advance notice of an alien’s release from custody upon request. Eighty percent of the awarded agencies received additional points based on their certifications of willingness to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
The COPS Office awards grants to hire community policing officers, develop and test innovative policing strategies, and provide training and technical assistance to community members, local government leaders, and all levels of law enforcement. Since 1994, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to help advance community policing.