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Graham Police Department gets federal funds to hire six full-time officers

Piedmont Triad News

GRAHAM, N.C. (WGHP) — The Graham police chief is looking to strengthen the relationship between officers and the community.

$750,000 will help the department put six new full-time officers on patrol in neighborhoods.

It’s the first federal grant they’ve received since 1996 to recruit officers to the department.

Unlike other law enforcement agencies in the Piedmont Triad, Graham’s police force is fully staffed with 40 sworn officers.

“The last time our city received a hiring grant for police officers I believe was 1996 and we had the ability to onboard 5 police officers at that time,” Police Chief Kristy Cole said.

Cole was one of those officers sworn in during that grant cycle.

She knows firsthand getting more officers on the street will create opportunities to build more community trust.

“I was able to secure resources that those families needed, to address quality of life issues, and some of those resources weren’t necessarily police related,” Cole said. “So being a community policing officer and establishing the connections, the human connections, with our community, it’s policing at a different level. You’re making a difference. Asides from just responding when someone dials 911.”

The department in the past has faced public backlash following protests in October last year.

They garnered national attention after a Confederate statue rally in downtown Graham.

Cole says it was a learning experience and helped the department grow.

“Community expectations of police operations don’t always align and establishing and having an open line of communication with your community is critical to support from your community when those operations and expectations do clash, and that’s something that we learned,” she said. “We learned the relationships and partnerships within our community, that they weren’t as strong as we needed them to be.”

The $750,000 C.O.P.S. grant will pay for the six officers for three years,

It takes about five months to get new recruits through the police academy, and Cole admits it’s not as easy as it once was.

“We have big businesses moving into town. That does make me nervous right? Amazon or UPS starting salaries are more than what they are for starting salaries for police candidates. It can be challenging, and I think police departments in the future are going to face crisis when it comes to police recruiting,” Cole said.

She says although policing has its challenges the department will work to continue to establish trust, and relationships throughout the city.

“I want our community policing initiative to live much longer than just the grant cycle, and I want it to be a way of life for our officers who join our PD in the city of Graham,” Cole said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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