By Kayla J. Marsh
ABERDEEN – Township officials are once again seeking grant funding that historically has been used to ensure a safe environment for community members.
Township Manager Holly Reycraft said the township is seeking about $60,000 in funding from the state Safe and Secure Communities Grant Program.
“It provides towns with funding for additional law enforcement personnel,” she said.
According to the state site, “The Safe and Secure Communities Program, enacted into law in 1993, is designed to provide municipalities with funding to add law enforcement personnel vital to effective police operations and other crime related strategies as warranted by the needs of the community.
“The program allows for the funding of additional officers or funding of law enforcement support personnel, which would free up officers for direct law enforcement activities.
“Currently, there are approximately 160 municipalities receiving funds for 345 officers and 13 non-police support staff.”
Chief of Police John T. Powers said the funding goes towards several department positions.
“We use the money from that grant to offset the salaries of the officers who are assigned to the School Resource Officer Program and also the instructors in our Law Enforcement Against Drugs Program (LEAD),” he said.
Powers said the School Resource Officer is assigned full-time to Matawan Regional High School.
“The School Resource Officer is a full-time position in that, during the school year, he is assigned full-time to the high school and then he also takes some time out of his day to visit the other schools we have in town,” he said.
“He’s there to interact with the students and staff and administration as well as respond to any calls for service or any needs that the school might have with regard to law enforcement.
“The other two officers that teach the LEAD program they do that part-time and is an added duty that these officers have.”
While not present when the first application for the grant was put together, Powers said the township has a strong history of receiving substantial funding.
“I wasn’t involved in the initial application, but basically this grant program is geared to community-oriented policing programs and it’s evolved over the years,” he said. “This grant goes back several years, probably even further than my immediate predecessors [but] you have to reapply annually for the funding.
“Typically $60,000 has been the figure, although there have been years where the full $60,000 hasn’t been available to us and we have received a few thousand dollars less than that … usually not less than $50,000 however.”
Reycraft said while the funding helps to offset salaries, it is more about ensuring community safety and security.
“The School Resource Officer is there during arrival and dismissal, he makes daily visits to all the six schools within the township, sometimes they’ll go to community meetings to promote the school, do community crime-prevention education,” she said.
“The hope is to reduce crime and just work with the school administration to provide a safe environment for school and staff.”