183 U.S. Law Enforcement Agencies Get Funding from Justice Department to Hire New Officers

The Justice Department announced Thursday it's providing a grant of $139 million to police departments across the country to hire more than 1,000 new officers, the Associated Press reported.

The Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services is funding the grant. The money will be spread across 183 law enforcement agencies in the country and U.S. territories to help police departments hire more officers to reduce crime and improve community policing.

"We are committed to providing police departments with the resources needed to help ensure community safety and build community trust," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

The money is being given directly to police and sheriff's departments, both large and small, and requires it to be spent on hiring more law enforcement officers. Law enforcement agencies across the country experienced a large number of officers leaving and retiring. They have been struggling to recruit new officers as replacements.

The justice department says half of the agencies plan to use the money "to focus on building legitimacy and trust between law enforcement and communities," while others will use it to focus on tackling violent crime or building mental health programs.

In total, the funding allows for 1,066 new officers at a total cost of $139,232,523, the Justice Department said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, White House, Washington
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a Tribal Nations Summit during Native American Heritage Month in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, November 15, 2021, in Washington. The Justice Department is giving $139 million to police departments across the U.S. as part of a grant program that would bring on more than 1,000 new officers in 183 law enforcement agencies. Evan Vucci, File/AP Photo

The grant awards come as police departments across the U.S. have been facing budget reductions, with cities struggling with ballooning costs from the coronavirus pandemic and national calls to reduce police funding in favor of spending more money on social services. Several police agencies have also delayed or canceled police academy classes, which is likely to leave a number of jobs unfilled as other officers retire.

Law enforcement agencies are struggling to recruit the next generation of police officers since George Floyd was killed at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis in May 2020, sparking massive protests about policing and inequity across the country. And amid the national reckoning on policing, communities have been questioning who should become a police officer today.

The Justice Department said it received nearly 600 applications from police departments in nearly every state and U.S. territory.

The money is being provided to police departments both large and small. For example, the grant provides funds for an additional 50 officers in San Francisco, Chicago, Cincinnati and Houston. New Orleans, Cleveland and St. Paul, Minnesota, would receive 30 new officers, and other smaller forces receive a few new officers.

Besides funds for hiring, Justice Department policing grants also provide funding for local, state and tribal law enforcement agencies to enhance community policing, in which agencies use relationships with community leaders to establish dialogues about needs and identify residents' concerns.