Grant money allows Kennett to add an additional police officer

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

KENNETT, MO (KAIT) - Not long ago the jobs of at least two Kennett Police Officers were in question.  Now not only are those jobs secure but a new officer will be joining the force.

$93,965 in grant money is coming to the Kennett Police Department.  It's part of the billion dollars being handed down by the federal government to police departments across the country.

"We're tickled to death," said Kennett Police Chief Barry Tate.

In Kennett the news of an extra officer is something to celebrate.  243 agencies applied to get the grants and Kennett is one city of only 14 to get it.

"We just feel very lucky.  Very fortunate," said Tate.

He said they are fortunate because not too long ago their fortune wasn't there.

"Just a few months ago we were talking about having to lay off a couple of officers and we got through that ordeal," said Tate.

Tate said they saved jobs by cutting back their budget.

"We were able to cut other line items in our budget to save our officer.  We cut about seven to ten percent off of our budget," said Tate.

Officer Mark Dennis said he was worried about his job.  He said he was in the bottom three.

"We were told they were probably going to start at the bottom and I love my job and wanted to keep it," said Dennis.

Now with this new addition coming, he and the chief feel a lot better.

"It's just a great feeling to know that we can continue on and gain another officer," said Tate.

This grant will be good for three years, after that the city will be responsible for paying for a fourth year for the officer to stay on the force.  After that Chief Tate said they do plan on reapplying for the same grant.

Tate said in that four year period that the officer is guaranteed a job some other officers could retire, creating another opening.

"We want to keep all the officers that we can.  The times with the way they are, things are going to happen and we just have to try to do what we can," said Tate.

"We're out there anyway 24-7 so hopefully knowing we've got extra help will help out more," said Dennis.

There are currently 23 officers plus the chief employed by the department.  Chief Tate said one more can only help.

"Being seen is the number one deterrent.  The more officers seen out there the less crime you have," said Tate.

The grant is paid for through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed earlier this year.

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