Grant helps fund new police cars

Published 10:05 am Saturday, February 27, 2010

FRANKLIN—Two brand new police cruisers are helping Franklin police officers patrol the city’s streets, thanks to grant money from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency.

Ellen Davis, the state director for Rural Development, announced the $50,000 grant award for the Franklin Police Department Friday morning at City Hall.

“What we’re basically doing is bringing your tax dollars back to your communities,” she said. Franklin police Lt. Tim Whitt said the cars the department was able to purchase replaced two unserviceable cruisers.

Davis said the Rural Development agency is acutely aware of the challenges that often face communities in rural areas as they try to provide services to their citizens. She said they often hear of police cruisers in rural areas with “a couple hundred thousand miles on them,” which could lead to unsafe conditions for officers.

“We all owe a debt of thanks to these brave officers willing to do this dangerous job to keep our communities safe; and we at (Rural Development) are more than delighted to help them obtain new resources,” Davis said.

At the same time budgets are being slashed, Davis said the economy is having an impact on crime rates.

“You’re seeing different types of crimes and increases in crimes that maybe you weren’t seeing a few years ago,” she said.

Franklin Police Chief Phil Hardison said the funding came at a “critical time” for the department.

“We are very grateful,” he said.

In addition to Franklin’s award, Davis also announced grants for Emporia and Greensville County. Emporia received a $25,000 grant to purchase new mobile data terminals to upgrade first responder capabilities. Greensville County was awarded $44,550 for new police cars and equipment.

“We are so happy to be able to help these three localities purchase new police cars and other equipment to better outfit their first responders,” she said.

Davis called Rural Development a “crown jewel” among federal agencies, because of its efforts to improve the quality of life in rural communities through grants and loans.

Last year the agency provided more than $680 million in loans and grants in Virginia alone.

“We really think there’s a good possibility we might hit a billion (dollars) this year and that’s money that’s just being reinvested in rural communities,” Davis said. “We’re here to offer all the support that we can.”