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Stimulus money for law enforcement

More than $1.5 million in federal money is being offered to law enforcement agencies in Spokane and Kootenai counties for new equipment, training or personnel.

The money, part of the economic stimulus package, was added to an existing program known as the Edward Byrne Justice Assistant Grants, which is designed to get more police on the street, more training and equipment to agencies, and more help for crime victims, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said.

The White House is promising to review all requests and approve or reject them within two weeks, a Cantwell spokeswoman said.

The program divides the money between states and local governments. Under its formula, the City of Spokane will be available to request more than $824,000, Spokane Valley $207,600 and Spokane County almost $195,000.

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner said the city got notice of the money on Friday afternoon and hasn’t had a chance to figure out yet what they would request as uses for the grant. She has formed a committee of senior city staff to keep track of federal and state stimulus and other money directed to the city “to make sure that we’re making the absolute best use of these dollars.”

“We want to be very strategic in how we use this money because we know it’s one-time money,” Verner said.

In recent years, Spokane Valley received about $15,000 for field computers and software, and Spokane County received $70,535 for a range of equipment that included computers, wireless communication devices, special ammunition for the SWAT team and the neighborhood watch program, Ciaran Clayton of Cantwell’s office said.

In Idaho, the City of Coeur d’Alene can apply for as much as $320,000 and Kootenai County for about $148,000.

Coeur d’Alene City Administrator Wendy GabrielÖ said the city and its police department would “absolutely” be applying for the money. It has used the Byrne program before, and already sent Gov. Butch OtterÖ a list of things it would seek if money became available under the stimulus package, including a program to fight Internet crime and more money for community oriented policing. The federal government is also requiring them to get new radios, but hasn’t offered to pay for them, Gabriel added.

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