Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Some Florida Additions Are Phantoms

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Some Florida Additions Are Phantoms

Article excerpt

President Clinton's re-election campaign is advertising that his

administration is responsible for putting 48,000 additional

police officers on America's streets. But like Halloween, there

are some phantoms out there.

The Justice Department says its grants have added more than

2,000 men and women to 216 of Florida's city police departments

and county sheriff's offices.

In a spot check of 11 of those cities, The Associated Press

found that many of those supposed additions exist only on paper.

The Justice Department makes grants under the 1994 Crime Bill,

which aims to put an additional 100,000 police officers on the

streets by the year 2000. Some of the grants are for officers'

salaries. But some of the grants are for equipment, mostly

laptop computers.

In the equipment grant proposals by the cities and counties,

the law enforcement agencies are required to show how many hours

they anticipate the new equipment will save officers.

The Justice Department then takes that total number of hours,

and through its own formula converts that into the equivalent of

having a certain number of new officers.

There are no new officers, of course, as a result of the new

equipment. The existing officers are just able to spend more

time out on the streets.

In St. Petersburg, for example, the Justice Department is

paying for about 275 laptop computers for use by officers on

patrol. The Justice Department calculates that the time saved

through use of the laptops is the equivalent of having yet

another 28 officers.

The police department is just now taking bids for buying the

computers, according to Police Chief Darrel Stephens. So the

Justice Department's claim of the 28 additional officers on St.

Petersburg's streets is premature. …

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