A federal grant will secure the jobs of 16 North Las Vegas police officers who might have been laid off come January, city officials announced Thursday.
The $5.3 million grant from Community Oriented Policing Services, COPS, which is part of the Department of Justice, will "cover the anticipated layoffs" meant to help the financially strapped city save money, Sgt. Tim Bedwell said.
"We’re hoping this will get us over the hump that is the downturn in the economy," he said.
But Bedwell and Mayor Shari Buck said the money does not guarantee other officers will not be laid off, given the city’s grim budget situation.
North Las Vegas, which has undergone several rounds of budget cuts the past two years, still must trim $10 million from this year’s budget and $42 million from next year’s. The city laid off 188 employees in June.
The city also is laying off 19 corrections officers and 24 civilian jail workers because it is about to lose a third of its inmates to a new federal detention center in Pahrump.
"At least we know we’ll be able to save those 16 jobs," Buck said.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., helped secure the federal grant, acting Police Chief Joe Chronister said. Without it, the city "would have struggled to avoid personnel cutbacks that included a reduction in the number of police officers patrolling our streets."
In a statement Thursday, Reid said putting Nevadans back to work is his No. 1 priority. The grant "will help improve our economy and make our communities safer," Reid said.
To accept the funds, the city must agree to retain all of the officer positions covered under the grant for at least a year after the three-year grant period.
Congress created the COPS program in 1994, enabling local law enforcement agencies to hire additional officers with federal funds.
Other Nevada recipients were the Shoshone Tribe, which will receive $155,815, and Te-Moak Western Shoshone Law Enforcement Public Safety, which will get $189,121.
Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0285.