By Cleve Bryan
TRENTON, NJ (CBS) — No murders in the city since mid-July has new Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson really upbeat about the direction of public safety.
“We brought back a sense of calm to the city,” says Jackson who took office in July and selected a new director for the police department as one of his first official actions.
Police Director Ernest Parrey is a Trenton-raised veteran of the department who retired as a captain in 2011.
He says one of his goals is to improve community policing such as foot and bike patrols, which he says have been hard to staff since the city laid off about a third of the police department in 2011.
“The interaction has to be with the community. If the community buys in along with the officers– you build a partnership,” says Parrey.
He’s slowly getting the manpower he needs to do the job.
Last week the city swore in 24 new recruits who will patrol Trenton after completing the police academy in Mercer County.
Thursday lawmakers joined Parrey and Jackson on the steps of City Hall to announce a $1.5 million grant that will enable the police department to hire 12 more officers.
“Tough budget times call for tough choices, but I believe public safety is our bedrock responsibility,” said US Senator Bob Menendez standing beside Senator Cory Booker, Congressman Rush Holt and state Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman.
Trenton’s award is part $12.2 million awarded to New Jersey to hire 87 police officers statewide through the U.S. Justice Department’s COPS Program.
New Jersey’s Congressional delegation says it was a battle to fund the COPS program, but in the end the state received much more than the $5 million awarded last year.
The COPS program provides 75 percent funding for entry-level salaries and benefits for three years for newly hired, full-time officers or rehired officers who have been laid off.
The other 25 percent of the funding is up to the City of Trenton which Mayor Jackson says the city is working on identifying budget cuts as well as new sources of revenue.
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