PORTSMOUTH — The Police Department announced it has been approved for $369,148 in grants, for eight programs, and that it's on track to return about $100,000 in unspent funds to the city's general fund.
During Tuesday's Police Commission meeting, Chief David Mara announced the largest grant, for $256,037, is designated to fund the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. That statewide program is headquartered at the Portsmouth Police Department and is funded by the federal grant, Mara explained. The funds include paying 100 percent of a police sergeant's wages to run the program and 80 percent of a detective's wages to investigate cases, the chief said.
Five grants from the New Hampshire Highway Safety program were also awarded to the city police department, Mara announced. He said that includes $10,000 for officers to conduct distracted driving patrols and $6,758 for staffing sobriety checkpoints. Also announced were a $9,843 grant for roving DWI patrols, a $6,195 grant for bicycle/pedestrian patrols and $9,926 for "step patrols" (officers dedicated to looking for driving infractions).
Also announced was an $11,065 grant to pay 50 percent of the cost for 20 bullet-proof vests, Mara said. Five of the vests will go to members of the Seacoast Emergency Response Team and 15 will go to patrol officers, said the chief.
Mara also announced the department was awarded a $59,324 grant for an "opiod abuse reduction initiative." He said that grant is also through the New Hampshire Department of Safety and will be used for Portsmouth officers to "work with other area police departments for enforcement of the problem."
Also during Tuesday's Police Commission meeting, the department's business manager, Karen Senecal, said she's closing the books on the past fiscal year and approximately $100,000 in unused funds will be returned to the city's general fund. Senecal said there was large salary savings during the past fiscal year, due to staff reductions, but some of that savings was lost to cover staff shortages with overtime. Senecal said the Police Department did exceed its overtime budget during the past fiscal year, which ended July 1.