As a result of the recently passed federal crime bill, the Orange County Sheriff's Department and 11 cities in the county were authorized Monday to hire a total of 49 law enforcement officers with a total of about $3.6 million in federal grants.
But some city officials have said they may not be able to make the hires because they cannot afford to match the grants, which the bill requires. And that was before the county declared bankruptcy, putting many municipal agencies' financial condition in jeopardy.
President Clinton authorized 105 cities and counties statewide to begin hiring or rehiring 480 law enforcement officers while petitions for federal crime bill grants amounting to nearly $36 million are pending.
The President also named Hayward Police Chief Joseph E. Brann, a 21-year veteran of the Santa Ana Police Department, to direct the effort to put 100,000 new police officers onto the nation's streets, even as House Republicans vowed to drastically overhaul the program.
At a Justice Department ceremony with all the trappings of a campaign appearance--with uniformed police lined up in front of a giant American flag--Clinton announced that 631 jurisdictions have been told to go ahead with hiring 4,688 officers while their applications for $327 million are pending.
Clinton, declaring that "this is a very happy day for the people of the United States," praised Brann as America's "top cop" and saluted his advocacy of community policing, in which officers try to get to know residents of their precinct and win their cooperation by solving problems not usually thought of as police concerns.
Brann, Hayward chief for nearly five years, previously served in the Santa Ana Police Department for until 1989, rising to the rank of patrol and administrative captain.
Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno both condemned efforts by the Republicans, with their newly won majorities in the House and Senate, to replace the so-called COPS (community-oriented policing services) program in the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1994 with block grants that would lessen Washington's control over the funds.
The block grants as proposed in the House Republican Conference's Taking Back Our Streets Act, to be introduced in the new Congress, would not require that the funds be used for community policing.
Under the COPS program, cities may be obliged to pay 50% or more of the average annual salary and benefits to officers.
"There is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow," Costa Mesa Police Chief David L. Snowden said two months ago. "That's what happens when you get a bunch of bureaucrats, who have nothing to do with law enforcement, voting on stuff."
Some departments declared earlier this year that they would not be able to participate in the program.
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The complete list of the Orange County law enforcement agencies, with number of officers that would be hired and the estimated grants, follows:
Agency Officers Grant Anaheim Police Department 9 $675,000 Brea Police Department 2 150,000 Buena Park Police Department 2 150,000 Fullerton Police Department 4 300,000 Garden Grove Police Department 4 300,000 Huntington Beach Police Department 6 450,000 Irvine Police Department 3 225,000 Lake Forest Police Department 1 75,000 Orange County Sheriff's Department 10 750,000 Orange Police Department 4 300,000 Tustin Police Department 2 150,000 Westminster Police Department 2 150,000
Source: Associated Press