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Purzycki Says No To Federal Money For Cops

Wilmington – Police Chief Says the City has a sufficient number of officers; Mayor says City can’t sustain the additional $3.5 million cost to the City for accepting the grant
Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki said today the City has chosen not to accept a $1.8 million federal grant to hire 15 police officers. Purzycki said if the City accepted the grant, it would have been required to spend an additional $3.5 million over the next four years—a cost the City can’t sustain as it faces multi-million dollar deficits through Fiscal Year 2020.

Equally important to the Mayor as he was deciding this issue was the opinion of Wilmington’s new Police Chief, Robert Tracy, that the Police Department will have a sufficient number of officers to conduct agency operations , 314, even with the elimination of five vacant positions as proposed in the Mayor’s FY 2018 budget. The Mayor also noted that a 2015 state crime commission report said the WPD has sufficient monetary and operational resources to adequately fight crime in the City.

“These federal grants are not free money,” said Mayor Purzycki. “In theory, when cities accept these types of grants and add more police officers, they should do so with the understanding that the number of officers will be reduced by an equal amount through attrition when the grant expires.” However, Purzycki said past practice in Wilmington proves that doesn’t happen.

Instead, the Mayor said, police and fire department staffing has been inflated over the past decade through the acceptance of federal grants. Purzycki said when past Administrations, and now his Administration, have tried to cut positions to save money and bring staffing back to safe operational levels, it is met with opposition. “We are breaking with that irresponsible fiscal practice as of today by not accepting this latest grant,” said Purzycki.

The COPS grant that has been declined was applied for by and awarded to the previous Williams Administration which then deferred a decision until the Purzycki Administration had a chance to review the grant stipulations.

Source: Mayor’s Office

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