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Law enforcement awaits effect of sequestration cuts
All week long News 5 has been showing you the local impacts the federal sequester could have on Nebraska residents. With the sequester looming less than 6 hours away we turn to local law enforcement.
They could see a big cut that affects their operations.
Thousands of dollars are used each year by our local law enforcement for essential everyday equipment. So what happens if those funds are cut?
"We've received no real breakdown of what it means to law enforcement," said Grand Island Police Chief Steve Lamken.
About $97,000 in Justice Assistance Grants will be cut across the state of Nebraska with the federal sequester.
"That's just one less piece of equipment we can buy," Hall County Sheriff Jerry Watson said.
"The Grand Island Police Department has received a justice assistance grant for several years in a range of $20-$30,000 a year," said Lamken.
"Our agreement with the city. They keep 75% of the money and we get 25% of it every year," said Watson.
Meaning the Hall County Sheriff's Department usually gets around $8,000 of that.
"So if you do the math on that and they cut $97,000 out of $1.9 million, that's a 5% decrease. Bottom line, what that means for us is it's $500 less," Watson said.
So what do both departments buy with those funds?
"We typically use that money to maintain our mobile computing and data capabilities in our cars," said Lamken.
"Anything from the camera systems that are in the cars or it could be weapons or it could be radios or it could be light bars," Watson said.
The money is typically used for equipment and technology in cars, but both departments agree any cut would hurt.
"The biggest impact as I see it is, you know, it effects. If I can't buy that equipment using this money than the taxpayers pay for it," said Watson.
And Chief Lamken says there's not a lot of slack in their budget either.
"Every little bit hurts," said Lamken.
This year the Grand Island city council gave the Police Department a significant increase in money, but Chief Lamken says those resources are reserved. It's to add officers and other positions to the department.
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