FARMINGTON – Recently, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office was awarded a grant of up to $250,000 to create and fund two additional patrol deputy positions.
Lt. David Rackliffe, who oversees the patrol division at the sheriff’s office, explained how the grant works and how they expect to utilize those funds.
The grant is through the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program. This program awards grant funding directly to law enforcement agencies to hire and retain officers. Rackliffe said that while there are shortages in law enforcement agencies across the county, rural communities may be more impacted by those shortages.
The COPS grant will pay up to $125,000 per officer over the course of three years, and Franklin County will add two positions for a total grant not to exceed $250,000. By accepting the grant, the county enters into a four-year commitment. The grant will pay a decreasing percentage of the officer’s salary and benefits package over the three years, while the county will pay the increase. The fourth year, the county will pay 100% of the cost of employing the officer.
Currently, the FCSO patrol division staffs three people on the day shift and the night shift, seven days per week. Adding an additional two positions will potentially allow Rackliffe to adjust the scheduling to have four patrol deputies on duty for both day shift and night shift on an alternating weekly schedule. One week, there would be four deputies on both days and nights for five days of the week, and the next, there would be four deputies on duty for four days of the week.
By adding two new positions and increasing the available staff, Rackliffe anticipates a decrease in the cost of overtime when an officer takes sick leave or vacation time, as they would be able to adjust the scheduling to maintain the base coverage of three officers per shift without having to increase the hours for individual officers.
Currently, there are three sergeants and eight deputies in the patrol division for a total of 11 officers. There is one vacancy for a patrol deputy, Rackliffe said, and he is working to fill that vacancy as well. Adding the two new positions will bring the total up to 13 patrol deputies.
The county commissioners approved adding a patrol deputy position last year and told Rackliffe to come back for an additional position in the budget season for the upcoming year. The award of the COPS grant will allow the county to add two new positions at a reduced cost.
“It’s a softer way of increasing the staffing that we desperately need,” Rackliffe told the commissioners.
There are still details to be figured out, in terms of what percentage the county will pay each year for the next three years, but the county commissioners voted to accept the grant funding last week.
Including this grant, the county has reportedly received just under a million dollars in grant funding for the sheriff’s office and for school safety programs in the last year.