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No grant funding means no new investigator for police

The flame went out earlier this month on Jonesborough Police Chief Matt Hawkins’ last flicker of hope for getting a second investigator for his department this year.
Hawkins has requested funding for the position for at least two years now, but has been denied by members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen each time.
Earlier this year, the BMA said it would not fund the position this fiscal year, but agreed to consider it again if the agency were to garner a grant to help defray the costs.
Hawkins promptly applied for a grant through the federal COPS Hiring Program, which awards funding to pay a percentage of the new position’s salary over a certain number of years.
The town requested grant funding that would pay 80 percent of the investigator’s salary the first year, 60 percent the second year and 30 percent in the third and final year of the grant.
Even then, Hawkins was less than confident that Jonesborough would receive the grant, one he applies for every year.
This year, the COPS program placed an emphasis on the hiring of School Resource Officers with the grant funding.
Earlier this month, Hawkins confirmed what he had already thought might be the case. The town was not among the 141 agencies across the nation named to share in the $45 million in funding.
“We’ll continue to request the additional position in the (town) budget,” Hawkins said last week. “The caseload is tough for one investigator to handle. Last I checked, it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 170 open, active cases that (Maj. Matt Rice) is handling.”
In the past, Hawkins has told BMA members that, without the additional investigator, the agency’s ability to solve crimes and properly investigate situations will suffer.
“The worst case scenario is we have cases that have a high probability of successful prosecution that slip through the cracks,” Hawkins said last week. “That is something we do not want to happen.”
The department has been trying to prevent that, Hawkins said, by utilizing patrol officers to conduct much of the follow-up work typically done by an investigator.