02/12/06 — Mount Olive police get grant for officer, car

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Mount Olive police get grant for officer, car

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on February 12, 2006 2:04 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive police learned last week that the department had been approved for a grant that would enable it to hire an additional officer and buy a new patrol car.

The Governor's Highway Safety Program sent a letter to Chief Emmett Ballree, telling him the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has approved the state's highway safety plan, which included a $58,000 grant for Mount Olive. Of the total, $49,000 came from the state with a town match of $9,000.

"We're very happy," Ballree said. "Anytime you can get extra equipment or extra manpower it helps."

The new traffic enforcement officer's salary and benefits will come to a little more than $22,000, and a fully equipped squad car would cost about $36,000. All costs must be incurred before Sept. 30.

The local share of the grant, authorized by the town board, will be paid gradually, Ballree said.

Ballree said he hopes to have the new officer's position filled this week. It could take 30 days for the new car to show up, he said.

Ballree hopes that the new officer will allow his department to devote more time to actively enforcing the vehicle laws, conduct driver safety awareness campaigns and conduct DWI and seat belt checkpoints. Currently, a large part of the officers' time is used answering calls and making sure local businesses are secured, Ballree said.

Ballree said he likes the education component of the grant, which provides money for officers to go into schools to talk about traffic safety and hold car-seat clinics.

The grant pays for the officer for one year. The town must seek another grant to keep the position or come up with the money on its own.