Feds to DeKalb: We want our money backA DeKalb County Police vehicle. Photo obtained via Wikimedia Commons
DeKalb County may have to pay back $2.3 million in federal grant money used to hire police officers after an audit found the grant application relied on inflated crime statistics.
The audit, released this month by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General, probed the county’s application for Community Oriented Policing Services grants, more commonly known as COPS money.
DeKalb County used the money to hire 15 entry-level police officers for three years. The county received $4.5 million in COPS grant awards from 2009 to 2013, but the audit zeroed in on spending that amounted to $2.3 million of those funds. Auditors concluded that DeKalb County’s application overstated the amount of aggravated assaults. The 2009 application to the feds claimed there had been 11,807 aggravated assaults in 2008. The auditors found that there had only been 1,183.
“The officials told us they could not explain the differences because the officials who completed the grant application were no longer employed by the county and the Police Department did not maintain documentation for the statistics submitted to COPS,” the audit says. “The current managerial officials responsible for the COPS grants were not employed by the county when the application was completed.”
The audit concluded that the grant awards based on DeKalb’s flawed application came at the expense of other cities.
“The City of Memphis Police Department, which received (COPS Hiring Recovery Program) funding for 37 of the maximum 50 allowed officers it requested, would have been fully funded for 50 officers using $2,229,357 of the funds awarded to DeKalb County. The City of Chattanooga, which did not receive any CHRP funding, would have received $868,285 of DeKalb’s award for use in funding five officer positions.
“The inaccurate application statistics placed DeKalb County in a better position to receive CHRP funding because it appeared to have a greater need for funding to address fiscal and economic conditions and high rates of crime.”
DeKalb Police Chief Cedric Alexander told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that it was “an egregious error” and added that those responsible for the grant application, including the grant writer, are no longer with the department.
Read it: The OIG audit.DeKalb Cops Audit