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Manatee sheriff, courts, cops await boost

MANATEE — Law enforcement and judicial agencies in Manatee will receive about $1.6 million in federal public safety grants this year, most of which are funded by the federal stimulus package.

Some of the grants will go toward judicial services such as drug court counseling or renovating the Manatee juvenile processing center. Various law enforcement agencies are also in line to receive funds to buy patrol cars and other technology.

“It’s been a big boost,” said Fred Loveland, Manatee County’s community services director. “It has meant a lot because you have a lot of small law enforcement agencies that really can’t buy a lot of technology when they need it.”

The county will receive just more than $300,000 as part of the annual Justice Assistance grant program. The stimulus package will add more than $1.3 million.

Both the annual grants and stimulus awards are split into funds that come directly from the federal government and those distributed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The Manatee County Commission has already approved spending plans for most of the grants. The board must still approve $180,000 in grants by Aug. 11. Those grants are annual funds distributed by the state law enforcement agency.

Funding requests were reviewed by a group of public safety and judicial officials and then forwarded to commissioners.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office is in line to receive the largest amount of any agency. The department will receive $390,000 to better integrate its computer system with the county clerk’s office.

The department will also get $66,355 for a “flash freezer” to store food donated by farmers and grown by inmates at the Manatee County jail. About $35,000 of the freezer’s cost will be paid for by the sheriff’s office.

“This will allow us to preserve that food,” said sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow. “Now you have to throw it out if you don’t use it.”

With the freezer, the department won’t have to buy as much food from its suppliers, Bristow said. Those savings should pay for the freezer in a little more than a year.

The Bradenton Police Department will receive $70,000 for a new machine to record incoming phone calls and radio traffic. The grant will also pay for printers in patrol cars so officers can print tickets and give people crash reports on the spot instead of only giving them a case number.

The department also had requested about $60,000 in the latest round of grants for digital camera technology for interview rooms and another K-9 unit.

“We do understand there are other police agencies that do need funding,” said Deputy Chief Bill Tokajer. “We would have preferred to have not seen so much funding go toward drug courts and more toward law enforcement.”

Other law-enforcement projects funded by the grants include:

n $76,000 to Bradenton Beach police for a patrol car and communication technology.

n $60,000 to Longboat Key police for two patrol cars.

n $30,000 to Palmetto police for a patrol car.

n $20,000 to Holmes Beach police to put computers in patrol cars.

n $5,000 to the city of Anna Maria for an all-terrain vehicle for beach patrols.

n $3,614 to Manatee County community services officials to manage the grants .

Judicial-related grants include:

n $236,885 to Juvenile Services Inc. for juvenile detention screenings.

n $210,464 to Manatee Glens Corp. for drug court counseling services and a 26-month jail diversion project.

n $205,000 to renovate the Manatee County juvenile processing center.

n $169,467 to the Manatee County Probation Office to hire three new workers.

n $54,000 to hire a domestic violence coordinator for the 12th Judicial Circuit.

n $40,000 to Insight Counseling for sexual abuse rehabilitation.

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