Mayor Eddie A. Perez was hoping for enough federal stimulus money to pay for 40 new police recruits this year.
Instead, he got enough for 23 -- which could slightly grow the total number of police officers in the city by early next year, according to Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts.
"I was hoping to get 40," Roberts said. "But, let me say this, I'm satisfied with what we got. It could be better, but I won't complain.
Perez and Roberts announced Tuesday that the city will receive $4,265,672 in federal money from the COPS Hiring Recovery Program -- a competitive grant. They said that 78 law enforcement agencies applied for the money, but only three -- Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport -- got any.
In his budget message to the council earlier this year, Perez said he decided against using city funds to pay for more police officers. Instead, he said he was hoping to use "federal stimulus funds to subsidize police overtime expense throughout the year and hire a class of forty new police officers projected to start the police academy by early this summer."
Instead of 40 officers, though, the money will be enough for just 23. And with an average of 1.5 officers leaving each month, the new recruits may only slowly help the police department get to Perez's goal of 500 active police officers.
"We'll probably even out," Roberts said Tuesday. "Right now, we have about 460. If things stay the same, we'll wind up with about 470."
Police union President Richard Rodriguez said roughly 30 people are eligible to retire this fiscal year. "Anytime you get anything from the federal government, it's great to augment your police force," Rodriguez said. "But the hope is that the people that are eligible to retire will stick around until the next academy class."