SAPD hopes to hire at least 50 officers as it continues growing patrol division

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Police Department officials are hoping that the feds will once again help them hire dozens of new officers as part of a plan to put hundreds more patrol officers on the street.

The San Antonio City Council unanimously signed off Thursday on letting SAPD apply for and accept a Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant. If the city receives the full $6.25 million grant, it would help pay for up to 50 new police officer positions.

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Over the three-year grant period, the cost to the city’s would be $16.9 million. After that, the city would have to fully fund the positions out of its budget.

The new officers would help SAPD move closer to meeting a recommendation from last year that it add 360 patrol officers in a five-year period. The goal is to get officers to where they’re spending 40 percent of their time responding to calls and 60 percent doing “proactive policing.”

The city says the officers will also help the department address its violent crime reduction plan and the Good Neighbor program.

The city already got 100 patrol officers toward the five-year goal as part of a record increase of police officers the FY 2024 budget. Half those positions were also partially funded with a COPS grant.

The latest grant request indicates the department will be adding at least 50 positions to the 2,710 already authorized for SAPD. It’s not clear yet if city staff will suggest adding any more positions, which would likely have to be fully on the city’s dime.

“I think we’ll ask for as many as we can get,”Assistant Chief Robert Blanton told KSAT.

There could be a harder fight over budget priorities this year, though. City staff expect a budget deficit over the next two years of at least $10.6 million.

The city has received the COPS grant six times since 2010:

  • Fiscal Year 2010: 50 officers to enhance patrol services
  • Fiscal Year 2016: Four officers to augment the Mental Health Unit
  • Fiscal Year 2018: 25 officers to address violent gun crime
  • Fiscal Year 2020: 25 officers to address domestic violence
  • Fiscal Year 2024: 50 officers to address community policing including violent crime, gun violence

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