On Tuesday, the Menahga School Board decided to proceed with the grant application process for the COPS Hiring Program (CHP).

If awarded, the grant pays 75 percent of an entry-level police officer’s salary and fringe benefits for three years. Superintendent Kevin Wellen proposed that the school district and City of Menahga apply for the grant and split the remaining 25 percent of the costs equally. He estimated the school and city would need to pay $5,000 and $8,000 annually.

At the end of the three-year grant period, the city and school would need to decide how to fully fund the position going into the future, Wellen said, because the city would have the officer exclusively during the summer and the school would primarily have the officer during the school year.

The Menahga City Council must agree to these terms as well, he explained, and the officer must be a new hire.

“If they say ‘no,’ then we’re done before we start,” Wellen said. “If they say ‘yes,’ they have to budget $8,000 each year. It’s a three-year commitment.”

Menahga Police Chief Adam Gunderson is willing to participate, he reported.

“This would get us an SRO (school resource officer) for three years,” Wellen said.

The board unanimously agreed to proceed with the application process and commit to an yearly amount not to exceed $8,000.

According to the U.S Department of Justice website (cops.usdoj.gov/chp), CHP is a competitive solicitation, open to all state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies with primary law enforcement authority.

Approximately $400 million in funding is available for fiscal year 2020. The deadline is March 11. CHP provides funding to hire and re-hire entry level career law enforcement officers in order to preserve jobs, increase community policing capacities and support crime prevention efforts.