Thursday, April 09, 2009

New cities say they’re losing out on police money

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The cities of Johns Creek, Milton and Sandy Springs feel like they’re losing out on their share of $5.6 million in federal stimulus money because they’re new.

The Department of Justice is doling out money to almost every local law enforcement agency in the nation. But the grant is based on three calendar years of Uniform Crime Reports, a statistical crime summary each city compiles annually.

None of the cities’ police departments have been around for three calendar years. Sandy Springs police hit the streets February 2006; Milton police in May 2007; Johns Creek in April 2008.
Based on nearby cities of approximate size and amount of crime, city and county officials project the money may not be more than $200,000 for all three of them. By comparison, Alpharetta is set to collect $66,000; Roswell $98,000.

Susan Oliver, public affairs specialist for the federal Office of Justice Programs, said that the money for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant has already been allocated. Fulton County and its other cities are applying for $5.6 million. She said the new cities could ask for a piece of their pie.

“Fat chance,” said Johns Creek City Manager John Kachmar. “Crime did occur in this area. It’s not fair that we wouldn’t get an allocation. Fulton County got our share of the money.”
Chris Lagerbloom, city manager for Milton, agreed.

“We can give them three years of data, just two of it will be from Fulton and one from Milton,” Lagerbloom said.

Fulton County no longer has an obligation to fund police protection in the areas that have incorporated, said Rob Hernandez, deputy county manager.

“I understand their argument,” he said. “If they were part of the county system, we could use those funds to benefit those communities.”

Oliver said more money is coming from the Department of Justice that the cities can tap into. She said Georgia is receiving another $36 million, about 60 percent of which is going to local governments.

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