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Federally-funded cops to be on streets next month

By Rachel Lippmann

St. Louis – Thirty-one new St. Louis police officers will hit the streets next month because of the federal stimulus package.

The department had to cancel a scheduled police academy because budget cuts last year. The academy was rescheduled when St. Louis received the federal grant.

"Many of these new recruits and applicants had moved to St. Louis bought new houses and started to begin their career as police officers," said chief Dan Isom. "We didn't know when we would have a new class."

The cancellation came as the city was applying for part of $1 billion in federal money for law enforcement.

"This funding does not directly address the long-term financial issues that cities across this country face," said Bernard Melekian, the director of the federal Community Oriented Policing Services, which awarded the $1 billion in total grants to department across the country. "But what we do believe is that it represents a four-year grant cycle for an opportunity for the city to address specific problems and to advance community policing."

The city's $8.6 million grant will fund the a total of 50 officers for three years. The city must provide funding the fourth year, a bridge Mayor Francis Slay says the city will cross at that time.

A second stimulus-funded class will enter the 28-week academy in the fall.