PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday announced more than $111 million in funding for more than 800 law enforcement positions across the country as part of a federal program aimed at hiring military veterans.
Holder announced the funding at Philadelphia's City Hall as part of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Philadelphia will get $3.1 million for 25 officers, one of the biggest awards in the country. Los Angeles is getting $6.4 million for 25 officers, while Chicago is getting $3.1 million for 25 officers. Overall, Holder said the money would save 200 officers from layoffs and help hire 600 more.
"We look forward to welcoming these new additions to our nation's law enforcement community," Holder told a gathering of government officials and law enforcement officers — including Philadelphia police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, a former chief in Washington, D.C., whom Holder said was "still my chief."
All the new positions funded in the COPS hiring program this year must be filled by recent military veterans who have served at least 180 days since Sept. 11, 2001, officials said.
Other awards include $1.9 million for 15 positions in Atlanta; $1.1 million for nine positions in New Orleans; and $1.9 million for 15 positions in Boston.
Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh is getting $1.4 million for 13 positions; Chester is getting $625,000 for 5; and Alquippa is getting more than $107,000 for one.
In Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter said the money would help the cash-strapped city in its effort to hire about 400 officers over the next year to bolster a department that has shrunk down to about 6,200 amid tough financial times. Elected officials and others at the news conference said the federal assistance for law enforcement was critical as cities struggle through difficult economic times.
"Relief is coming, it's on the way," Ramsey said, noting the plans for new hires. "We're doing all we can, but we do need the help."