Ogdensburg awarded COPS grant to fund hiring of additional officers

Nov. 6—OGDENSBURG — The Ogdensburg Police Department (OPD) has received $250,000 in federal funding that would fund two officers for three years.

On Friday, the city of Ogdensburg announced with a press release that it has been selected to receive funding from the Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) grant through the U.S. Department of Justice. The $250,000 grant would fund two new officers for three years.

"Hiring of two officers at this time is crucial to ensure adequate police services can not only be maintained, but services can be enhanced in areas of the most need," stated Police Chief Mark T. Kearns in the press release. "This is the first step toward rebuilding the department, providing much needed reprieve to our officers and the ability to provide a greater service to our citizens."

The release states that the COPS mission is to "advance community policing nationwide, by supporting state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies as they carry out their vital public safety missions." The funding comes at a time when the department has seen a major decrease in staffing over the last three years.

In 2020, the department had 28 officers and four dispatchers. In 2021, numbers decreased to 23 officers and three dispatchers and the following year staffing took another hit to 18 officers and two dispatchers due to budget cuts.

Currently, the department is budgeted for 19 officers and zero dispatchers.

The city is currently in the midst of developing its 2024 budget and no new police officers were included in the preliminary budget approved in October. The final budget needs to be approved by Dec. 1.

Interim City Manager Andrea L. Smith called it "phenomenal news for the city at a time when financial resources are limited."

"This award will provide critical funding to hire new law enforcement officers to ensure that we maintain our force numbers as we look ahead to plan for upcoming retirements and rebuilding the department to service our residents," stated Smith.

The COPS application was a collaborative effort between the OPD and the Seaway Valley Prevention Council. The release states that "both entities recognized that the police are often the first people to interact with our most vulnerable populations."

"I am very proud of this collaboration and look forward to future projects together," stated Kearns.