EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

April 5, 2009

NH police eye stimulus funds to add officers

Departments hoping to add to their ranks using federal funds


Salem might apply for two more positions if selectmen approve the application. Plaistow is hoping to apply for one officer.

Many town officials have been loathe to spend much outside of the bare necessities in order to keep tax rates down.

In Windham, selectmen panned the idea of applying for the grants because they were uncertain when the economy could turn around, police Chief Gerald Lewis said.

"You can always use more help," Lewis said. "But, as I explained to them, we are holding our own."

Sandown police Chief Joseph Gordon likewise decided not to apply for a new position after attending a meeting in Concord detailing federal stimulus money.

Salem and Plaistow selectmen are due to make their decisions tomorrow.

Salem Town Manager Jonathan Sistare described the grants as a good deal, one of the best since Clinton first established the program.

"In this case, it seems very favorable," he said. "You're getting a three-for-one deal. The other thing we would look at is when we get beyond the grant, we have to ask whether it would be something burdensome for the town."

Sistare said he doesn't think a poor economy would play a role in the decision, given that people are hoping for an economic turnaround by the time the four-year contracts expire.

But the current state of municipal budgets is expected to make the application process very competitive.

"I imagine there are a lot of people who are going to be applying, especially with layoffs (at departments)," Newton police Chief Larry Streeter said.

He hopes to increase his department from five to six. Voters have turned down a request to fund a full-time officer for the last two years, while he said Newton has grown in nearly every area by about 20 percent.

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