Story last updated at 8/5/2009 - 12:30 pm
JUNEAU - Despite having several vacant positions, the Juneau Police Department did not qualify for any of the $5 million in federal stimulus money announced last week to go to Alaska for police staffing.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced the award of nearly $1 billion in federal stimulus grants to fund police officer positions across the country that have been cut or threatened to be cut. Fourteen law enforcement agencies in Alaska received grants that will cover 23 officers in the state, including one officer each in Yakutat and Sitka.
"Unfortunately we didn't qualify because we didn't have any positions that we had lost or were in danger of losing at that time," Juneau police spokeswoman Cindee Brown-Mills said. "That may change next fiscal year; we're not really sure."
The Juneau Police Department has not been fully staffed for the past several years, but it's not because of budgetary issues, Brown-Mills said.
Most of the communities in Alaska receiving the federal grants to hire police officers are remote villages. However, Anchorage will receive nearly $2.6 million to fund nine officer positions and Fairbanks will receive about half million dollars to fund two positions.
Sitka received $264,200 to fund a school resource officer that it had been unable to keep full time last year. The goal is to make the environment around the schools safer and to decrease violence and bullying, Police Chief Sheldon Schmitt said.
Yakutat will also receive $325,334 in stimulus money.