City of Lincoln
2009 Media Releases
Mayor Chris Beutler announced today that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes $1.4 million to support local criminal justice and law enforcement efforts. The money is available through the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program. The funding is about 15.6 times more than the $90,000 Lincoln received through the program in 2008.
"These funds will help us improve public safety and officer safety without impacting operating budgets," Beutler said. "The primary use for the City portion of these funds will be to update the computer-aided dispatch system in the City's Emergency Communications 911 Center."
The 911 Center takes calls and provides dispatching for the Police and Fire and Rescue departments as well as the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office. The current dispatch system was acquired in 1994. By using about $700,000 of grant funds for upgrades, the City will avoid the need for a long-term lease-purchase arrangement, which would have required about $120,000 in lease payments each year for seven years.
Police Chief Tom Casady said these are formula grants, which means they are based on crime rates and population. The grants require a joint application with Lancaster County, and the Police and Sheriff's offices have historically collaborated in the allocation of these dollars.
Casady said the remainder of the City's portion will help address equipment and technology needs that could not be met otherwise. Those include the purchase of about 12 ballistic shields that officers use to protect themselves when approaching an armed suspect; the purchase of 14 more TASERs; and the deployment of more broadband hot spots that will enable officers to complete reports in the field.
Although the use of the funds does not require City Council approval, Casady said the plan is scheduled to be presented at the Council meeting April 6, and the public would have an opportunity to comment at that time. He expects the funds to be available by mid-summer.