Officers Fear Federal Budget Cuts Could Mean Less Equipment - - The News for South Mississippi

Officers Fear Federal Budget Cuts Could Mean Less Equipment

Officer Lance Clark, along with the entire sheriff's department, will soon be patrolling with new dash board cameras. The Justice Department 's COPS grant is paying for the $130,000 upgrade.

"We applied through Sen. Thad Cochran's office for some federal funding for some video equipment for the patrol cars," Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd said.

But this could be one of the last COPS grants the sheriff's department receives because of federal changes. Sheriff Byrd says grants like this pay for equipment the county can't afford.

"It helps each department tremendously as far as man power and equipment," Sheriff Byrd said. "Here, its going to help us with equipment we very desperately need."

Federal funds are important to most every law enforcement agency in Jackson County. The Pascagoula Police Department is using funds from the Justice Department to upgrade their computers and buy everyday equipment like flashlights and bullet proof vests.

"They generally come up with half the cost of the vest with the other half out of your money," Pascagoula Police Sgt. Ronnie Castille said. "We hope to have approval for that some time in the next month."

Although Pascagoula's grants will not be effected by this budget change, Sgt. Castille knows how police departments need that extra funding.

"It puts quite a bit of money to the program where we can purchase equipment," Sgt. Castille said. "It's extended money we don't have in the budget."

The sheriff's department plans to start installing the new cameras as soon as the funds are approved, and officials hope some of same grants opportunities will be around next year.

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