Mentor Police slated to receive $186K to fight violent crime, pending official approval




  • In US
  • 2022-06-23 03:52:00Z
  • By The News-Herald, Willoughby, Ohio

Jun. 22-The Mentor Police Department is slated to receive $186,000 as part of the third round of Gov. Mike DeWine's Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program, pending official approval.

According to officials, the funds will pay for retention bonuses in efforts to help maintain current law enforcement staffing levels, recruit new officers and continue ongoing public safety services to prevent and investigate violent crime.

"We applied for a retention incentive grant through the Office of Criminal Justice Services, American Rescue Plan Act, Law Enforcement Violence Reduction and Staffing grant opportunity," said Mentor Police Chief Ken Gunsch, noting the grant allowed for law enforcement retention incentives to provide reasonable compensation increases for employees to remain at the current employer versus leaving for other options.

"This would be a one-time payment or spread out in smaller payments during the grant period," he added. "We applied for a $2,000 incentive per recipient. If we are officially approved, the money will be used as a retention incentive for law enforcement officers and communication technicians."

To date, the department has received the OCJS money for body-worn cameras ($53,273) and an officer wellness program ($26,400).

Gunsch noted the city and the department consistently seek grant opportunities to fund specific projects.

"Grants allow the department to initiate new programs or continue programs that have value to the department, city and the community," he said, adding law enforcement officers around the country are leaving the profession in large numbers for a variety of reasons.

"Many are retiring early or leaving the profession to seek other opportunities," Gunsch explained. "Additionally, the number of qualified police applicants is decreasing. This (retention) grant opportunity can incentivize our officers to remain at the department and in the law enforcement profession.

"Also, when possible recruitment candidates can see demonstrated support from city council and administration, it may add to their confidence in seeking employment in an organization that recognizes their hard work and contributions."

To date, DeWine has awarded $3.9 million to 16 local law enforcement agencies to help them strategically combat violence in their communities.

Moreover, the governor has awarded $9.6 million to 44 Ohio law enforcement agencies to aid in their work to hold accountable the small number of criminals responsible for the most violent crimes in the state.

"To keep our communities safe, it's critical that our law enforcement agencies have the right tools to go after the small group of repeat offenders who illegally carry firearms with the sole intent of hurting people," DeWine stated in a news release.

"By providing this support, we're helping our peace officers proactively prevent violence, and we're also helping law enforcement maintain the staffing levels they need to protect our communities."

DeWine, in partnership with the Ohio General Assembly, created the Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program last year to give local law enforcement additional tools to address violence, including increases in crime associated with law enforcement retirements and resignations.

In total, the governor will award about $58 million as part of the program in the coming months.

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