The city of San Antonio is being awarded $6.32 million in federal funds to hire 50 new police officers over three years and improve mental health offerings for uniformed law enforcement personnel.

The background

According to a Nov. 2 news release, U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, announced they had secured $6.32 million in federal funds through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Service, or COPS, Hiring Program and the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act, or LEMHWA, Program.

Specifically, the city will use $6.25 million from the COPS Hiring Program to hire 50 officers, and $69,726 from the LEMHWA Program to improve delivery and access to mental health and wellness services for law enforcement, the release states. San Antonio was one of the four U.S. cities awarded the maximum number of officers along with Houston, Detroit and Cincinnati.

What they’re saying

Cuellar said it was vital that a growing city such as San Antonio receive federal monetary support to shore up local public safety.

“The COPS Hiring Program provides our local law enforcement agencies with the resources they need to protect our communities, and the LEMHWA Program ensures they have access to mental health care,” Cuellar said in a statement.

City Manager Erik Walsh said the city's fiscal year 2023-24 budget added 117 police officer positions. He also said the new officers will help to implement strategies developed through the city's Violent Crime Reduction Plan. Walsh also said adding 100-plus police officers will help to improve the San Antonio Police Department's response times and community engagement.

“This grant will pay for half of the 100 new officer positions that City Council approved in the [FY 2023-24] budget, allowing our officers more time to do proactive policing and build relationships and trust with the community we serve," Walsh said in a statement.