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Cop Program Affected by Bush Budget

Many communities around here have received federal funding to hire additional police officers through the "community oriented policing program."

But the president's latest budget plan would slash those funds by 95 percent from $500 million to just $25 million. What does it mean for agencies around here?

Sgt Dave Farrell has been patrolling the streets of Tallahassee for 22 years. For the past three you're as likely to see him on his bike as in his car, trying to get up close and personal with folks in this neighborhood.

"We talk to people and we work with members of the community to solve neighborhood problems, be it prostitution, drug dealing, open air drug markets," he says.

The "Community Oriented Policing" philosophy has been backed up by federal funding for the past decade. It helped TPD hire 12 new officers and buy laptop computers for their cars, but those salaries are picked up by the city now, so federal cutbacks won't reduce the number of officers on the street.

Greg Frost with TPD says, "We hate to see that some of that funding would be reduced as significantly as is being proposed, but the immediate impact on Tallahassee will be very minimal."

The Leon County Sheriff's Department is spending its COP money, $250,000, to place school resource officers in elementary schools.

DEP Patrick Lyons says, "PR for the children and for the parents, to teach them that law enforcement's out here as their friend, and to help them and not that we're the bad guy."

An LSCO spokesman says if and when community oriented police funds run out it intends to pick up the tab.

The deputies and officers say COp is a funding option they don't want to lose, but if they do it won't have a big impact on the streets. Keep in mind this is a budget proposal at this point, not a done deal


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