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Mayors react to not getting COPS money

July 30, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The mayors of Chambersburg, Greencastle and Waynesboro had different reactions about their police departments losing bids for stimulus money, but none of them were surprised.

"With the way everything is, there's no way I thought we'd be on the receiving end of that particular grant," Waynesboro Mayor Richard Starliper said.

Nineteen applicants from Pennsylvania received $20.2 million from the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program this week. Among them were Philadelphia and Harrisburg, which combined received funding to hire or retain 58 officers for three years.

When commenting on New York City not receiving grants, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was quoted by The Associated Press as saying the federal government has a "perverse" inclination to send money to failing programs instead of ones that work.

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That sentiment was repeated by Greencastle Mayor Robert Eberly.

"Maybe that's why we didn't get anything -- we're doing too good of a job," Eberly said.

Documents at www.cops.usdoj.gov show Greencastle scored 7.05 out of 50 for financial need.

Eberly said the community often loses grant applications because municipal leaders pay their bills on time and keep debt low despite not having the strongest tax base in the area.

"They look right over us," Eberly said. "It's like Mayor Bloomberg says -- we're getting punished for doing good."

"Most everything goes to the bigger cities," Starliper said.

Starliper said Waynesboro might be better off not getting a grant because if it hired a new officer, the municipality would have needed to pay that salary after three years.

"It's a bad-news, good-news situation," Chambersburg Mayor Pete Lagiovane said, saying the funding went to places that had a greater need than Chambersburg.

Lagiovane went to a meeting last year to learn about programs that financially support cities in reducing crime.

"Big cities get more grants related to the problems big cities have. ... They have more crime in small neighborhoods of their cities than in all of Chambersburg," he said.

Starliper said Waynesboro received $10,000 earlier this year to buy equipment for police officers. Eberly is waiting to find out whether any programs will provide money to put a police officer in Greencastle-Antrim schools.

"We get our share of grants," Lagiovane said.

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