The City of Poughkeepsie Police Department will be a using a federal grant to hire new officers. New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney was outside the police department Tuesday to announce the grant that’s been waiting in the wings since 2015.
Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York’s 18th District, says the city is now eligible to use the grant from the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.
“We are going to be securing $630,000 in badly needed funds to support this police department,” Maloney says. “The City of Poughkeepsie is on the move, it’s on the rise. A lot of that has been the progress the city has made in public safety.”
The grant will help the Poughkeepsie police department hire up to five new police officers. Poughkeepsie Police Chief Thomas Pape:
“We’re at budget right now for 92. An additional five officers would bring us up from 92 as we go through the hiring process,” says Pape. “So the new officers would fill the spots in patrol, and the seasoned officers would go out into the ranks of community policing.”
Republican Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison says the city has taken steps to retain officers and attract them from other departments, by offering salaries competitive with other police departments in the region. This has helped increased the ranks from 79 to 89 officers. Rolison says it’s the higher number that enables the city to exercise the federal grant.
“It’s been here since 2015 when the congressman was able to help us secure that for additional officers but, because we never got to the level that the grant said you had to have to exercise it, it was sitting on the shelf,” says Rolison. “But now it’s off the shelf and dusted off and it’s going to be ready to hit the street, which is really good.”
So with a budget for 92 officers, and 89 currently in the department, the numbers with the federal grant could grow to 97. Congressman Maloney says federal grants for fire and police departments in his district have benefitted communities.
“We have made securing COPS grants and SAFER grants for our police and our fire departments a real priority in my office and we’ve had a lot of success here in Poughkeepsie, on the other side of the river in Newburgh,” says Maloney. “And we’re going to keep at that because we believe in the fundamentals. We believe that when the city is safe, the city is prosperous.”
And he says Poughkeepsie is heading in the right direction.
“But the real goal is to make this city thrive and to make the tax base strong enough to support the kind of law enforcement folks deserve here,” says Maloney. “And that’s what we see happening, which is really encouraging.”
Rolison, who is up for reelection next month, says the grant will help grow the community policing unit, which the city’s officer retention program helped restore.
“People need to feel safe. Statistics are one thing; perception is another,” Rolison says. “And the fact that we can get more officers on the street being visible is really a benefit to this community.”
Earlier this year, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services released trends tracked over a10-year period that show violent crimes dropped in Poughkeepsie from 417 in 2009 to 216 in 2018, a nearly 50 percent decrease. Robberies, burglaries and property crimes also have fallen by 50 percent or more during that same timeframe.