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Federal grant means four new deputies

The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department will receive a $300,000 federal grant, which could help hire four new deputies, officials announced last week.

“This is about enhancement,” said Undersheriff Dennis Bonneville. “The grant money is not meant to supplant local funds already devoted to officer hiring. The grant is supposed to be used as seed money to mitigate the startup costs for the hiring of additional officers.”

The grant funds will be formally awarded when the county decides to hire the new officers. That step is up to the Kitsap County commissioners, who must authorize the new hires and decide whether the county can afford them in the long run.

The Community-Oriented Policing grant, awarded by the federal Department of Justice, helps cover benefits and salaries of the new hires. It won’t pay for equipment and training.

“This is exciting news, and it’s such a great program,” County Commissioner Chris Endresen said. “I really want to make it work because we need the deputies.”

Endresen added that the commissioners still have to analyze whether the county can afford any new hires.

According to Bonneville, the grant provides a 75 percent match of a deputy’s salary and benefits — up to $75,000 — in the first year. In the second year, the federal match is 50 percent and in the third year, 25 percent.

The county is expected to assume the entire salary and benefit cost after three years.

“We don’t want to miss out on this opportunity,” Bonneville said.

The undersheriff said equipment, training and pay of a new deputy costs about $100,000 in the officer’s first year. Some things could be done to mitigate those costs, he added.

“We could see about refurbishing some equipment or determining whether there is some useable equipment already in inventory,” he said. “Costs could be mitigated in terms of when the new hires start.”

The commissioners approved hiring four new deputies in 2000, and eight more in 2001.

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, announced the federal grant award last week.

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