HARRISBURG – Initiatives to improve law enforcement and public safety, strengthen counterdrug training and ease prison overcrowding would get a significant boost if grant applications for more than $95 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding are approved.
Gov. Edward G. Rendell announced that the State Police, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Department of Corrections and the Commission on Crime and Delinquency recently submitted applications to aggressively pursue additional federal stimulus funding to enhance public safety initiatives.
“These initiatives are good for the economy and public safety,” Rendell said. “Not only will there be jobs created, but relief that will be provided to law enforcement and corrections will make a lasting impact on our communities.”
The State Police seeks more than $34 million for law enforcement-related equipment and initiatives including $5 million for an integrated police records management system that would improve the department’s ability to gather and collect data regarding criminal incidents and $10.2 million to purchase two new helicopters.
Other State Police grant applications under the Edward Byrne Memorial Competitive and Recovery Act Rural Law Enforcement grants include:
• $5 million for new technology and additional personnel to improve the efficiency of Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law Registration System, which tracks more than 14,000 court-designated sexual offenders and violent sexual predators in the state. The Megan’s Law staff, which has five troopers and 10 civilian personnel, would be expanded by one trooper and two civilians under the proposal.
• $4.5 million for five aerial camera/infrared systems and 10 tactical mappings systems for use in State Police aircraft.
• $3.3 million for new scientific instrumentation and a local area network to link the six State Police regional crime laboratories.
• $1.9 million to upgrade the Pennsylvania Instant Check System, which is used to run computerized criminal background checks on individuals seeking to purchase firearms in Pennsylvania.
• $1.9 million to upgrade the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System, which is used to capture crime statistics for all police agencies in the state.
• $985,705 to develop a program in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to maintain and upgrade Pennsylvania’s Protection From Abuse Database, which houses more than 293,000 temporary and final protection from abuse orders issued by Pennsylvania courts.
• $700,000 for a new State Police mobile command post vehicle. The current 9-year-old vehicle serves as a command post for troopers for special details requiring quick deployment for short-term operations.
• $700,000 to fund Operation Triggerlock, a program developed by State Police in 1995 in which troopers work with local law enforcement officers to remove violent felons, illegal firearms, illegal narcotics and nuisance bars from crime-ridden urban areas. The program has been used in 25 different communities in the state.
• $588,530 for new equipment and training for members of the State Police Computer Crime Unit and its regional local task forces. The task forces provide specialized assistance to municipal police departments in computer crime investigations. The department also is seeking a grant of $206,212 to hire and equip a civilian training coordinator/quality manager for the Computer Crime Unit.
• $200,000 for overtime for training and drug interdiction operations aimed at identifying, investigating and dismantling drug trafficking organizations.
• $200,000 for Operation S.H.I.E.L.D. (Safe Highways Initiative for Effective Law Enforcement and Detection), a program through which troopers are trained to look for indicators of criminal and terrorist activity while conducting routine patrols.
• $166,500 to provide access for 100 municipal police departments to State Police intelligence information through an existing State Police contract with Memex Inc.
• $94,809 for high-tech surveillance and tracking equipment to assist in criminal investigations.
MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS
The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs applied for $4.3 million in three competitive grants to boost rural law enforcement counterdrug operations and fund local youth mentoring programs:
• $2.1 million from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance for the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center to develop and deliver web-based training to law enforcement officers across the nation.
• $1.7 million from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance to provide mobile training to rural law enforcement officers in strategically-targeted rural areas across the U.S., through the Pennsylvania National Guard’s Northeast Counterdrug Training Center.
• $500,000 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention for the Pennsylvania National Guard’s Counterdrug Program to implement a mentoring program for 450 young people from high-crime areas across Pennsylvania.
To continue its public safety mission, the Department of Corrections applied for $33 million from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Edward Byrne Memorial Competitive Grant program that would create approximately 216 jobs for innovative reentry initiatives and treatment programs:
• $32 million to establish agreements with 10 county prisons to serve as county jail community reentry camps for state inmates and fund staff start-up costs for three community-based transitional reentry camps – one in Philadelphia City, one in Pittsburgh and one at the Department of Corrections’ Wernersville Community Corrections Center in Berks County.
• $856,186 to fund six positions – two in each of the three community corrections center regions – that would conduct assessments and evaluations of violence prevention programs.
• $253,806 for the Office of Victim Advocate to fund two positions – one that would coordinate the Statewide Information and Victim Notification System (SAVIN) and another to administer an Offender Accountability Bank.
COMMISSION ON CRIME AND DELINQUENCY
The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency applied for $23.3 million to help coordinate the work of state and local criminal justice agencies to increase communication, effectiveness and efficiency.
• $4.5 million to implement two new “Weed and Seed” sites in high-crime neighborhoods to “weed” out violent criminals and “seed” those neighborhoods with prevention, intervention, treatment and economic development programs. These funds would also support existing Weed and Seed sites.
• $5 million for the Office of Victim Services to fund and train Elder Victim Advocates to work with the state’s 52 Area Agencies on Aging to provide specialized direct victim services to older victims of crime.
• $2.5 million for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to implement research-based programs to reduce youth violence.
• $3 million to create or sustain approximately 40 full-time Community Mobilizer positions within current Communities that Care sites, helping to prevent and reduce violent crime within CTC communities.
• $3 million for the South Central Task Force Regional Information Sharing Program to increase information sharing between law enforcement agencies across the region.
• $5.3 million to create and sustain drug and mental health courts, including a new drug court within the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, which would retain 24 positions and create 41 new positions to deal with jail overcrowding issues in 29 counties.