The 11 officers on the Sonoma State police force will soon have some company.
The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded the Sonoma State University police department a three-year $150,000 grant that will be used to hire two new full-time officers. Their annual salary will be $39,248.
SSU Police Chief Nate Johnson said the grant from the Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services (COPS) will allow the campus police to create a team of people who will focus on crime prevention issues and programs crucial to the needs of the expanding residential student population. This will include more intense training in programs like crime prevention, sexual assault prevention and anti-violence training.
The university is currently housing 1939 of its 7402 total student population, the largest number in its 40-year history. Some 960 of these are first-time freshmen.
The top five areas of public safety concerns were reported as violent crimes against persons, alcohol-related crime, property crimes, hate crimes and work place violence.
The campus police force now numbers seven officers, two sergeants, one lieutenant and one chief. Like local police officers or sheriff's deputies, Sonoma State University officers are vested with full law enforcement powers and responsibilities.
"For the grant proposal, we identified potential problems that may develop as the campus grows. We didn't need to have a big problem that needed to be solved. We only needed to show that we were taking a proactive approach," Johnson said. The chief plans to hire two more officers in 2004.
SSU was one of 369 cities and towns across the country that received a total of $112.3 million in awards for the hiring of 1433 law enforcement officers.
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