The Police Department will use narcotics forfeiture funds to pay salaries for two community policing officers due to a budget shortfall, officials said.
A statewide reduction in the Supplemental Law Enforcement Services Funds and Citizens’ Option for Public Safety grant funding, which had paid for the community police officers, left the department without the money to support the positions, Police Capt. Ray Edey said.
“We are down to the bone,” he said.
To pay for the officers’ salaries and maintain their positions, the City Council on Tuesday approved transferring $240,000 from the forfeiture account to the department’s supplemental law enforcement fund.
“Rather than the funds go back into the asset forfeiture, the Police Department felt the funds would be better used in supporting these [Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving] officers and supplemental grant funds,” Police Business Administrator Jay Kreitz said at Tuesday’s council meeting.
The account comes from funds of forfeited assets that were seized during narcotics- and white-collar-related crime, including fraud and identity theft.
“That was one of the strategies we discussed — to be more aggressive with our forfeiture— so we can see the fruit of efforts,” Councilman Ara Najarian said.
The fund typically pays for community education programs, staff resources, training and equipment used for drug-related investigations, officials said.
The community policing positions will be funded through 2013, but the department must come up with other funding sources to retain the officers if the grant funding reduction continues, officials said.
Still, Edey said the thinly-staffed department can’t afford to lose another two officers if the funding is not restored.