Friday, January 14, 2011

Grant Money Supports Brockton Fire, Police Departments

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—Brockton’s police and fire departments are looking forward to the City Council’s Finance Committee meeting Tuesday night because both are set to receive grants totaling more than $375,000.
The fire department is waiting for approval from the City Council to spend a federal grant of $229,840—an 80 percent share of buying every firefighter new turnout coats and pants—a staple of fire safety.
The Police Department is waiting for approval on a $145,891 state public safety grant which will be used for numerous community policing needs.
“This is a big savings for the city,” Francis said.
Francis said the department applied for a Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security grant for the essential equipment more than two years ago.
He said the department was notified in early 2010 the department had been approved for the money, but because the grant requires the city put up a 20 percent share—or $57,460, they had to wait until the 2010-2011 budget was finalized in the spring for the city’s share.
He said it was the first time the department had applied for the grant and were pleasantly surprised when it was granted.
Francis said the money will be used to buy every firefighter new turnout coats and pants—the heavy coats and pants that protect members and have numerous features for safety and convenience, such as large pockets for tools and equipment.
Brockton Fire Department has about 160 firefighters.
The new coats—top of the line—Francis said, have one of the latest safety features—an internal harness that allows firefighters to hook themselves onto a hook for stabilization or rescue of victims or even firefighters themselves.
Francis said eight new firefighters who were hired in October have already received their new equipment. He said once the City Council Finance Committee approves spending the grant, the new gear will be purchased and firefighters should be wearing their new gear within weeks.
Francis said the city provides firefighters with new turnout gear—a substantial cost, but an essential one—because it wants to make sure every member is equipped at the same level.
He said turnout gear is expected to last about seven to 10 years.
Police Chief William Conlon said the police department will use the nearly $146,000 state Edward J. Byrne Memorial Justice grant for a list of activities, needs and events associated with community policing.
“These are things we couldn’t usually afford,” Conlon said.
Conlon said a portion of the grant will be used to pay for stipends for department members of consultants to manage the grants, including accumulating documentation, research, and accounting that is required when the grant is accepted.
“People don’t realize how much documentation is required,” Conlon said. “Everything has to be accounted for right down to the penny,” he said.
The money also goes to oversee numerous bilingual translators who hold regular hours—usually Wednesdays—once a week throughout the year so non-English residents have someone to help them understand what is happening with all kinds of situations.
Conlon said the bilingual service is not only valuable for translation purposes, but also for community relations because those translators have a better idea of what happens and why within the police department.
“It opens the doors to our department to these volunteers to get to know what the police department does and those people take that back to their communities,” Conlon said. “It helps to gain the confidence of a community,” he said.
The grant also will help pay for the following:
¬¬*Community events where parents and guardians can have children’s fingerprints and DNA be recorded for future needs,
*Drug awareness programs for students and parents in the schools,
*Detail officers at numerous ethnic festivals,
*Domestic violence programs for youngsters and a social worker to conduct follow up following domestic violence incidents,
*“National Night of Crime” at the Shaw’s Center in August and Brockton’s Promise “Mayor’s Youth Summit” at Massasoit Community College usually held in the spring.
*T-shirts, food and supplies for community events.
Conlon said the use of the money for events and programs is flexible and if things come up things can be switched around, but the money is a much-needed infusion for the department to try to reach out to the community in different ways.
(Above image courtesy of

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