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$2.6 million in fed funds OK’d for 8 new Placer sheriff’s officers

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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It’s called “The Drug Store” and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office is hoping the program – part of a new $2.6 million federal grant to hire eight deputies – will reach impressionable middle-school students with an-anti illegal drug message. The Placer County funding is part of $243 million in grants to 238 law-enforcement agencies and cities through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services hiring program. California is receiving a $72 million share of the funding this year – enough to hire 190 more peace officers. The federal government pays for Placer County’s eight entry-level deputies’ salaries and benefits over the first three years of the program and the county will be responsible for costs in the fourth year. Sheriff Ed Bonner said that the funding will fill almost a third of the 25 front-line deputy vacancies his office now has. But the deputies won’t be on regular patrol duties. Instead, they’ll be part of a multi-agency project with several goals to tackle illegal drug use. “We believe that with the restoration of some of these positions and our continued efforts within the county, we can have a significant impact on the youth of our community,” Bonner said. “The Drug Store” will introduce a new anti-drug program in middle schools that also includes anti-gang and anti-bullying messages. It’s being described by the Sheriff’s Office as similar to “Every 15 Minutes,” a hard-hitting program that educates high-school students on the dangers of distracted or impaired driving. The funds will also be earmarked for: n Strengthening law-enforcement relationships with schools, non-profit social-service agencies and the justice system n Public forums to heighten awareness of drug issues in local communities n Expanding the sheriff’s special investigations, special operations and air operations n Developing stronger links to minority communities Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery said the county is teaming with the courts and school officials to develop a collaborative plan for addressing drug problems. “Getting these new deputies into the community will make a big difference in protecting our youth from drugs,” Montgomery said.