WACO, Texas – The Waco City Council is seeking a grant for over $1 million to hire twelve new police officers. The officers will have a focus on community engagement and night patrol.
Waco NAACP President Dr. Peaches Henry is in favor of the $1.5 million grant the Waco City Council voted to apply for last Tuesday.
“The fact that we are seeing the city apply for funds that will be applied to community engagement versus applying for funds, that will increase weaponization of law enforcement here. I think it’s a good thing,” Henry said.
She says there is a need for more night patrol officers, and the grant will allow the city’s budget to be used as resources in other areas.
The federal grant would help pay for twelve new police officers, along with $1.6 million in local spending.
Mayor Dillon Meek says his goal is to get the funds and resources for the Police Department.
“I am excited about getting some in part grant money. To be able to take one step further to accomplishing that goal of being able to look every resident in Waco in the eye and say, ‘We have put forth proactive strategic means to make sure this city is safe,'” Meek said.
Since Waco Police Chief Sheryl Victorian has been in office, she continues to emphasize the importance of Waco being a model city and engaging in the community.
“If you have additional officers, you can certainly work on community engagement, and that’s going to free up other officers to work on things like helping in the area of gang violence,” Henry said.
City Councilmember Josh Borderud says with Waco being a spread-out city, there is a need to respond quickly.
“The opportunity to add over ten new members, twelve patrol officers, I think would be a great benefit to our community. And I look forward to the new direction our force is taking with our new chief,” Borderud said.
Henry says her only warning is the African-American community feeling over-policed, because they want to be protected and not harmed.
“When both the community and law enforcement see each other as human beings who are a member of the same community, deserving of respect, I think that is going to lead to positive law enforcement outcomes in Waco,” Henry said.