Police lights on cruiser Credit: Tome213 via Shutterstock

Connecticut is slated to receive $8.8 million in federal public safety grants, including more than $3 million for the Hartford Police Department to hire 10 officers, according to a press release issued Friday by the U.S. Justice Department. 

The grants represent a slice of more than $334 million in funding to law enforcement agencies across the country, which is expected to help pay for the hiring of around 1,730 officers nationwide, according to the release. 

“We are pleased that communities across Connecticut will benefit from these substantial Justice Department grant awards,” U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery said. “These funds will help fight violent crime, curb the illegal distribution of dangerous narcotics, improve policing, and keep our children safe.”

Like municipalities across the country, the city of Hartford has struggled for years with the recruitment and retention of officers. This summer, the city’s police union made news when it released a letter stating that the department had seen the departure of more than 125 officers since 2020.  

The department’s staffing became a point of contention during a September debate between Hartford mayoral candidates, who traded ideas for recruitment and retention just a day after Hartford police officer Robert Garten was killed after he was struck by a driver fleeing a traffic stop. 

The town of North Branford will also receive $500,000 to hire four police officers, while smaller grants will go to the municipalities of Colchester ($153,806), Deep River ($160,000), Fairfield ($190,000), Norwalk ($126,660) and Vernon ($28,615) as well ast the Connecticut State Police ($174,342)as part of a Community Policing Development Program, according to the DOJ.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the grants would help support the efforts of police across the country.

“These grants, which support the hiring of more than 1700 new officers and make critical investments in school safety and crisis intervention efforts, will help provide local law enforcement agencies with the resources they need to keep their communities safe, support officers, and build public trust,” Garland said in a press release. 

Meanwhile, New Hartford Public Schools will receive $500,000 under a school violence prevention program.

The largest grant will go to the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, which will receive more than $3.8 million under an anti-heroin task force. Funding issued by the task force must be used to investigate distribution of opioids like heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and others, according to the DOJ.