The Irving Police Department is among three North Texas police departments have been picked to get federal funds as part of a national program to put more community policing officers on the street.

The Arlington, Irving and Euless police departments were selected by the Department of Justice for funding to hire additional officers. Arlington was granted $1.8 million to be used to hire 15 officers, Irving $375,000 to hire three officers, and Euless $500,000 to hire four officers.

The Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services gave a total of $98 million to 179 police departments around the country, which will allow 802 full-time law enforcement officers to be hired.

The Houston Police Department and San Antonio Police Department were awarded the largest grants out of the nine Texas departments that were selected. Each was granted more than $3 million to hire 25 officers into their force.

The Arlington Police Department plans to use the funding to place an additional 15 additional officers in units that focus on community engagement and target violent crime, said Lt. Christopher Cook, a spokesman for the department.

"All of [our new officers] will support partnership building, community policing efforts that we already have ongoing, and detective ranks that will address some of the emerging issues that we've seen over the past couple of years," he said.

Those issues include violent crime, known offenders and prolific drug offenders, Cook said.

"Some categories of violent crime have been trending up even though overall violent crime for this year is slightly down," he said. "We are keeping a watchful eye on aggravated assaults and robberies, especially in incidents that involve the use of a firearm. Information sharing and intelligence is key for commanders on where and how to deploy resources and officers to reverse these trends."

Cook added that the department is accepting applications for upcoming police academies in February and July.

The Irving Police Department will be using its grant to hire three officers that will be specially trained to respond to mental health complaints, said Irving police spokesman James McLellan.

"We will have these three officers trained to help people in mental health distress," he said. "Our calls for service involving folks with mental health issues, they just continue to rise, and we're dealing with some of the same people repeatedly."

With a dedicated effort on mental health, the department will be able to better help those in distress and also take preventative measures by following up with people involved in frequent cases to make sure they are OK, McLellan said.

"We'll be making these hires as soon as we can," he said. "It seems like the best fit for these grant-funded positions."

Presnted by Dallas Morning News, December 23, 2017

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