The Tampa Police Department is the recipient of a $1.9 million federal grant to hire 15 more officers to strengthen its community policing efforts. The federal grant was awarded through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
“Fifteen more officers on the street where they are needed and training to be more community-oriented are critical to defuse tensions and build trust,” U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor said. “Community policing builds trust and partnerships, which help officers better respond to the diverse concerns of our neighbors. It is a critical tool to help all of us come together and promote respect, peace and understanding in our neighborhoods. Community policing is also well-suited for the prevention of terrorism.”
“We are beyond thrilled to receive this grant from DOJ,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. “Any time we can put more officers on the streets to strengthen our community relations and protect Tampa families is a win for our neighborhoods.”
The COPS office is the same federal agency that spent months in 2015 and early 2016 in reviewing the TPD in the wake of a report claiming the department was disproportionately citing black bicyclists. They issued an 82-page report back in April that said while the policy of stopping and citing black bicyclists was not discriminatory, it also wasn’t that effective.
The Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services office was created in 1994 and a nationwide network of community policing institutes were set up to study the philosophy and help departments do it well.
In a statement, Castor said she had fought to stave off a GOP proposal to “gut the COPS Office.”
“This is great news for our department and for the city,” said TPD Chief Eric Ward. “We are committed to community policing because we know it is effective in preventing crime. This will help us put more officers on the street as we continue to build relationships with community members and work together to keep the city safe.”