HPD passed over for stimulus funds

July 28, 2009 3:42:34 PM PDT
The vice president Tuesday announced $1 billion in aid to help struggling police forces across the country. It's money that will be used to hire thousands of new officers and retain hundreds of positions that would have been lost due to budget constraints. While that's good news for cities like Philadelphia, Rochester, and Kalamazoo, city leaders here in Houston aren't exactly celebrating. That's because of that $1 billion, Houston, a city that's struggled to fill positions in the police department, got zero.

In Texas, Dallas and San Antonio will get more police officers, and even small towns just outside of Houston are getting their share.

At the small Cleveland beauty shop where Ann Strickland sets hair, crime hit home just last week.

"They had several window breakages, kids, it would be nice to have more money for investigations," said Strickland.

Residents are getting what they hoped for. As part of a federal stimulus, cities across the country competed for grants to hire extra police officers. Cleveland is among the 1,046 agencies across the country on the winning side. It's getting money to hire one more officer for the streets.

"I was very excited to hear about it. Especially when I found out four major cities in the United States did not receive any," said Chief Mark Bradshaw of the Cleveland Police Department.

Those four major cities, including Houston, aren't getting a dime, despite the fact that several council members went to Washington last week to lobby on Houston's behalf. The reason? Apparently, we're doing a good enough job already.

"The requirements for the grants favored communities with economic distress. It wasn't just about policing. We knew we were a long shot because we're in better shape than many cities, so we knew it was going to be difficult," said Houston City Councilmember Melissa Noriega.

Houston city leaders say they will apply for other federal grants in hopes of getting more money for local officers.

Ann Strickland agrees. She'd like to see her larger neighbor get more help, but isn't complaining today.

"I would like to see Houston get more money, but I'm glad Cleveland is getting some," said Strickland.

Across the country, only one out of eight applications were granted money.

Houston does have about 5,100 officers on the streets with another class set to graduate this week.

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