Rapid City, S.D. – Last night the City Council approved plans to accept an $823,804 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program. The grant will allow the RCPD to hire four additional officers and enhance the Street Crimes Unit.
“The Street Crimes Unit has been very successful in the downtown area, and now we can expand this concept to another part of the city,” Allender said. “The grant will give us an opportunity to focus on the public safety issues specific to a given neighborhood, and make positive changes.”
The Street Crimes Unit began patrolling the downtown area, bike path and parks in April 2010. The specialized unit was designed to address violent offenses in these areas, using a proactive approach to fight and deter crime.
Street Crimes officers aren’t subject to calls for service like traditional patrol officers; instead, they have more discretionary time to investigate the root of common crimes and look for effective solutions. Since its inception, calls for service in the downtown area have fallen nearly 10 percent.
“The Street Crimes Unit started as an experiment, in an effort to look at crime from a new angle,” Allender said. “I think that law enforcement, downtown business owners, and the citizens who frequent downtown would agree that the SCU has had a significant, positive impact on the area.”
The competitive COPS grant will pay for wages, overtime hours and benefits for the four officers for three years. The RCPD will be required to cover those costs during the fourth year. The grant does not require the Department to retain the positions after the fourth year.
The Department is still determining which area of the city will be the best fit for an expanded Street Crimes Unit, but is considering testing the unit in a residential neighborhood. The Department will begin the hiring process immediately, and is accepting applications until Oct. 21.