The federal stimulus program is paying off for Atlanta in the form of $11.2 million from the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which is enough money to hire 50 police officers, possibly by the end of the year.

The money is a three-year federal grant, but there is a catch. After three years, the city must have a plan to sustain the additional officers the grant paid for. That means the city will have to find the cash to keep those additional officers on patrol.

The funding for the 50 new officers is a far cry from the 200 officers Mayor Shirley Franklin had said she hoped to gain through COPS. But a review of the actual application for COPS funding shows Atlanta requested funding for only 50 officers, not 200.

The city will receive its official award letter this fall, at which time the department can begin adding the officers to the force. Currently, the city has budgeted for 1,701 sworn police officers.

In a statement about the funding, Deputy Police Chief George Turner said: “The goal is to have a recruit class this fall with the 50 new recruits. Once the officers are trained, they will be dispatched into the community.”

Franklin said, “I join other mayors and local officials in acknowledging the Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder for their efforts to advocate on behalf of cities. Atlanta competed nationally for this grant, along with hundreds of other communities, and this award represents an important public safety investment in our community.”

The Department of Justice received more than 7,200 applications for more than 39,000 officers, representing $8.3 billion in requested funding. The stimulus law includes $4 billion to enhance state, local and tribal law enforcement efforts.

— John Schaffner