The city’s Police Department has applied for a federal grant to hire three police officers and institute community-oriented policing.
Deputy Chief Victor Hugo said the $500,000 grant would be funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The department would reinstitute foot patrols as part of the initiative, something the department hasn’t actively pursued since the 1970s, when the city’s downtown was thriving.
Hugo said the potential of having 100 students from Fulton-Montgomery Community College staying downtown at the America’s Best Value Inn would create a need for officers patroling on foot.
“Not necessarily from the students but from people trying to get into the building or breaking into their cars,” he said. “Hopefully Main Street will become more active with businesses and things.”
Officers on foot could also be helpful in “rowdy” neighborhoods, Hugo said. Foot patrols have been used on a more limited basis on Market Hill near the Fastrac convenience store, where there have been various problems, and around Union and Elizabeth streets.
He said foot patrols are not necessarily better than patrolling in vehicles, as police do now, but patrolling on foot does have some advantages. For example, police will be more of a presence in the community, and residents will have an opportunity to get to know the officers.
Also, Hugo said, residents are more likely to provide tips to officers on the streets than call police headquarters.
“You get to know who the guys are and form a one-on-one relationship rather than see the car go down the road,” he said.
The Common Council agreed to allow the department to apply for the grant last month. The grant would provide 100 percent of the officers’ salaries for three years, Hugo said, but the city would have to cover the salaries for the fourth year.
He said if the city is fortunate enough to get funded, he hopes city officials would take advantage of the opportunity and offset the expense through retirements.
Up to $1 billion is available through the federal program and Hugo said a lot of agencies are probably applying.
Amsterdam police will know by September whether they are funded.