The funding arrives shortly after a tragic shooting incident in Ybor City on Sunday morning, in which a gunman took the lives of two individuals.
Thanks to two grants totaling nearly $4 million from the U.S. Department of Justice, Tampa’s police force is poised to expand by 30 new officers.
According to senior officials in the federal justice department, the Tampa Police Department will receive over $3.7 million from the federal government to facilitate the recruitment of new officers. Additionally, an additional $160,000 will be designated for de-escalation training aimed at reducing the unnecessary use of force within the police department.
This federal funding arrives shortly after a shooting incident in Ybor City early Sunday morning, where two individuals lost their lives, and 15 others were injured by gunfire.
“This past weekend, we experienced a shooting in our community in one of our busiest districts in which two individuals lost their lives, and several individuals were injured in the crossfire,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor told reporters in an online media call Thursday morning.
“This funding that has been announced today will play an important role in our work to reduce gun violence in our community,” she said.
This financial infusion is part of the more than $334 million in grants unveiled this week for law enforcement agencies nationwide, administered by the federally operated Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. These funds are intended to support the hiring of over 1,700 new police officers across the country.
According to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, the Tampa Police Department is among nearly 400 departments selected to receive two-year grants from the federal government for the recruitment of new officers.
Tampa’s incoming officers are expected to play a “critical role” in engaging with residents to reduce crime and enhance community-oriented policing throughout the city, as stated by former Tampa police chief and current Mayor Castor, who has served as a police officer for over three decades.
Mayor Castor emphasized the significance of de-escalation training, particularly in preventing the unnecessary use of force by officers when responding to individuals experiencing mental health crises or those influenced by drugs or alcohol.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco referenced FBI data indicating a 6.4% decrease in nationwide murder and manslaughter rates between 2021 and the previous year. Monaco also mentioned that there are indicators suggesting that the declining trend in violent crime has persisted into 2023.
Still, “we absolutely recognize that violent crime continues to threaten too many American communities,” Monaco told reporters. “The key to continued progress, though, is the partnerships we have with the law enforcement community and local governments we are supporting with today’s grants.”
Tampa police officials revealed in January that in 2022, violent crimes involving firearms decreased by 5%, and nonfatal shootings saw a significant 17% decline compared to 2021. However, the number of homicides in Tampa for the past year did show a slight increase from the year before, with 48 homicides in 2022 as opposed to 43 in 2021, according to data provided by the department.
Castor expressed her anticipation that both grants will serve to enhance the relationship between the Tampa Police Department and the community.
“This grant is incredibly important because, as we all know, there’s nothing that keeps our neighborhoods safe like having more boots on the ground,” Castor said.
“As being one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, we have to ensure that we have the resources necessary to continue to keep our city safe.”