Police departments get grants to hire vets

The New Orleans Police Department and St. Helena Parish Sheriff’s Office are the largest of four Louisiana law enforcement agencies getting federal money to rehire community policing officers or to hire military veterans for new positions.

The Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services says only veterans who served at least 180 days since Sept. 11, 2001, can get jobs created with this year’s grants, which total more than $110 million for more than 220 departments nationwide.

Each covers three years of pay. Louisiana’s total more than $1.5 million.

New Orleans is getting about $1.1 million for nine jobs and St. Helena Parish is getting $184,000 for three. The town of Baldwin is getting $85,600 and the town of Tangipahoa is getting $146,000 for one position each.

“This new opportunity for veterans is a commitment to support those who are coming home from their tour of duty,” said Bernard Melekian, COPS Office Director. “We sincerely hope this effort encourages our veterans to continue to protect and serve the United States through new law enforcement careers.”

Officers can be rehired only if their jobs have been lost or are about to be lost because of budget cuts.

Along with the pledge to hire military veterans, the office based its choices for 2012 on fiscal need, local crime rates, and each agency’s strategy to address specific problems such as increased homicide rates and gun violence.