Four north Florida law enforcement agencies received a grant totaling $975,300 on Friday to address the numerous public safety challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, announced Lawrence Keefe, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
The awarded police agencies include the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office with $370,107, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office with $127,963, the Panama City Police Department with $73,818 and the Tallahassee Police Department with $403,412.
President Donald Trump‘s Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program provided the funding.
“Throughout the many weeks our district and the nation have been dealing with the threat of COVID-19, our public safety first responders have worked tirelessly to make sure members of the public are safe,” Keefe said. “The resources of local agencies have been stretched thin, and these grant funds will help ease the financial burden on public safety agencies so they can continue protecting and serving our citizens.”
Agencies can use the funds to hire additional personnel, pay overtime, purchase protective equipment and address the medical needs of inmates.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 and the public health emergency it created are sobering reminders that even the most routine duties performed by our nation’s public safety officials carry potentially grave risks,” said Katharine T. Sullivan, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs. “These funds will provide hard-hit communities with critical resources to help mitigate the impact of this crisis and give added protection to the brave.”
The grant funding comes as some democratic politicians and social groups call for the government to defund the police.
The DOJ awarded 26 Florida police departments $32 million to hire more officers and address key community issues in early June.