Bath receives state grant for retaining police

by Laura Bednar

The Bath Police Department recently received money from Gov. Mike DeWine’s Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program.

The program was created to help local law enforcement reduce incidents of violence in their communities. It was launched in 2021 with a budget of $8 million but has reached $58 million after a contribution from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Bath was one of 14 communities to receive funding in the fifth round of grant awarding in July. The department received $230,826 for retention bonuses for current staff and to recruit new officers.

Police Chief and Township Administrator Vito Sinopoli said the department received authorization from the trustees to apply for the grant in April. He said part of the application included a letter listing the gross yearly wages of police department employees. Ten percent of that total was used as the qualifying amount for the grant.

“We’ve seen a considerable change in staffing communications and police since COVID,” Sinopoli said.

He said it is a challenge to recruit and retain dispatch employees and difficult to find prospective police officers willing and able to handle stressful calls.

“When law enforcement agencies are short staffed, they are often forced to reduce their proactive or preventative policing initiatives, which can cause crime to spike,” said DeWine in an April press release. “In an effort to support ongoing, proactive initiatives centered on the reduction of violent crime, funding will be available for things like recruitment efforts, retention bonuses, hiring bonuses, and payroll costs.”

The Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Office of Criminal Justice Services administered the grant, and Sinopoli said Bath will work with the office to obtain the funding. The township is working with the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents dispatch and police, to develop a structure for how grant money is distributed and what provisions are necessary.

“We hope using this money for retention bonuses will maintain our current staffing level and actively recruit into the police department to ensure continuity of service,” Sinopoli said. ∞