The Summit County Sheriff's Office, which currently has more than 30 open deputy positions, is receiving a $2.9 million grant from the state to help with hiring and retention.
The Summit County Sheriff's Office is receiving the largest cut among 13 agencies receiving a total of 13 agencies receiving at total of $8.2 million through the current round of funding distributed through the Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program.
The state said the grant is meant to help pay for retention or hiring bonuses to help maintain current staffing levels, recruit new officers and continue ongoing public safety services to prevent and investigate violent crime.
"We are thrilled to be receiving such a significant amount," Summit County Sheriff Kandy Fatheree said in a statement. "With these funds, we can continue our investment in the community - reducing violent crime and building the next generation of deputies."
According to the state, the money will allow for 10 vacancies to be filled and for retention bonuses for two dispatcher supervisors, 17 dispatchers, 57 supervisors and 241 deputies.
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Summit County Sheriff's Office Inspector Bill Holland said the office has been struggling with a "perfect storm" of staff shortages, between mass retirements in recent years of employees who were all hired at the same time now retiring at the same time, as well as employees leaving the law enforcement field for other careers.
"We're going to use that (money) for recruitment to get people to come to the police academy and obviously hiring them upon successful completion of the police academy, as well as recruitment efforts," he said. "So many departments are so short-staffed, what we're seeing is deputies and police officers are kind of bouncing from department to department, so we're going to use some of those funds for retention efforts."
The $8.2 million is the eighth round of the Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program, which the Ohio General Assembly created last year. To date, $45.9 million has been given to 132 Ohio law enforcement agencies as part of the program. A total of about $100 million will be awarded to law enforcement agencies.
"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," Governor Mike DeWine said in a statement. "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."
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Other ways the money can be used include the creation, implementation or expansion of violent crime reduction initiatives, like place-network investigations, focused deterrence, hot-spot policing and crime gun intelligence centers, as well as technology, equipment, training, technical assistance, analytical tools/support and overtime costs associated with implementing crime reduction strategies.
The program is funded through both the state operating budget and the American Rescue Plan Act. The 13 most recent grants, including Summit County's, are funded through ARPA.
The program is administered by the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services within the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
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Other Summit County agencies that have received funding in previous rounds include:
Bath Police Department, $230,826 for retention bonuses to help maintain current staffing levels of nine full-time dispatchers, one part-time dispatcher, 23 full-time officers and one part-time officer.
Cuyahoga Falls Police Department, $40,000 to enhance ongoing recruitment efforts through a 20-week radio campaign targeting likely police candidates.
Silver Lake Police Department, $53,935 for retention bonuses for three supervisors, five full-time officers and five part-time officers.
Stow Police Department, $330,689 for retention bonuses to help maintain current staffing levels of 12 supervisors, five detectives and 25 officers.
Summit County Prosecutor's Office, $764,982 to fund two additional prosecutor positions for the office's existing Gun Unit and to offer retention and hiring bonuses.
Summit County Sheriff's Office, $421,241 to add four deputies to the Akron Police Department Gun Violence Reduction Team, which targets hot-spot areas of high crime and violence and works to identify people committing crimes with guns.
Twinsburg Police Department, $909,502 for hiring three police officers and three dispatchers and retention bonuses for 34 officers and 10 dispatchers.
Contact Beacon Journal reporter Emily Mills at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @EmilyMills818.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Summit County Sheriff's Office gets state grant to help with hiring