Columbia police to pursue grant to add gang, domestic violence investigators

nophillips@thestate.comNovember 19, 2013 


— The Columbia Police Department is pursuing a grant that could add two officers to its growing gang unit.

City Council’s public safety committee gave the go-ahead Tuesday to Chris Segers, the city’s grant writer, to apply for the money on behalf of the police department. The city would request an estimated $243,990 to hire and equip two gang investigators. To qualify, the city would have to come up with a 10 percent match of the grant total, she said.

The police department also wants to apply for a grant to hire two additional criminal domestic violence investigators, Segers said. The city will ask for nearly $250,000 to pay for them, according to documents presented at the meeting.

Both grants are funded by the S.C. Department of Public Safety, which has about $3 million to award to law enforcement agencies across the state, she said. The public safety department could choose to fund all or just a portion of the requests, and money could be available for up to three years.

After three years, the city would have to cover the positions as part of its annual budget.

Under the tentative cost estimate, new gang and domestic violence investigators each would be paid a salary of nearly $47,000 a year, plus about $22,000 in benefits, according to information presented to the committee.

The police department’s gang unit already has five investigators, said Maj. R.J. Hines. The department has money in its budget to pay the 10 percent match if the city is successful, he said.

Gangs have become a sore spot in the community after a resurgence has been reported in the city and county. Most recently, gangs have been cited as the cause of violence in the city’s Five Points nightlife district.

The city previously has received a grant to fund a domestic violence investigator. That earlier grant was a joint project with the city and the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office to fund an officer and a special prosecutor, Segers said.

The grant applications must be filed by Jan. 10.

Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.

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