In June, the federal government awarded the state of Connecticut with a $4.7 million grant to save or create 36 positions for police officers around the state.
According to the Courant, Hartford received $1.7 million to hire 12 police officers, Waterbury received $1.7 million for 14 officers, New Haven received $750,000 for six and Norwich got $500,000 for four.
Over the next three years, these funds will maintain the increased police presence.
But what happens after three years when the money has dried up? The cities will face some difficult choices: lay off the new police officers, cut other services or raise taxes.
Radio host Jim Vicevich has pointed out this will only lead to more problems down the road.
Vicevich notes that if cities want to increase the number of police officers, citizens should be willing to pay now and not in three years.
The police grant is only the latest example of the federal government temporarily affording funds to states. The problem lies in the fact that the funds are finite and the localities will soon have to foot the bill.
The initial reaction is one of relief, but in three years, the situation will shift to uncertainty as cities may not have the financial capacity to maintain the police officers hired under this program.
It is not the federal government’s responsibility to fund the hiring of local police officers anyway. Local leaders who run these cities know better what is needed.
The problem is not the increase in police but the means used to pay for them. Governments at all levels are facing future fiscal uncertainty, but instead of facing the facts, money is being distributed to tackle problems in the short term without examining the long-term consequences.
Kelly Delaney is an intern at the Yankee Institute. She is currently working toward a doctorate in political science with a concentration in American politics and international relations from the University of Connecticut. She lives in West Hartford.