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Charlotte gets 50 new police officers a la stimulus; city could pay for more

Charlotte Mecklenburg will be getting 50 new police officers paid for by stimulus money for three years. That's a third of the officers the city requested. To help plug that gap, city council is considering adding another 75 officers by taking money from its street resurfacing budget. WFAE's Lisa Miller has more: Charlotte will receive $8.5 million from the federal government over three years to pay for the salaries and benefits of 50 new police officers. After that, the city must step up and take over the payments. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe says he's confident the city won't begin cutting those jobs once the stimulus money runs out. "Do we have a crystal ball to say for certain that that won't be the case? No," says Monroe. "But I think with the good stewardship that we've been under in past years will prevent that from recurring in the future." To get the money, the city had to promise it would at least pay those salaries in the fourth year. Mayor Pro-Tem Susan Burgess also says it's unlikely the city will lay off police officers after that. She says citizens want policing to be a priority, even if it comes at the cost of other services, like street re-surfacing. City officials are looking at ways the city could hire another 75 police officers by using money set aside for road resurfacing. "That's a measure I support, even though road re-surfacing is certainly very important," says Burgess. "But we already set aside $2.8 million in reserve for the one-time costs we'll incur with theses 125 positions." Councilman Warren Cooksey also supports hiring the 75 city-funded police officers. He says city council designated an additional $4.5 million dollars for road resurfacing with the understanding that if the stimulus money didn't come through, the city could tap the re-paving money to hire more police officers. "Because that was the intent of the money all along it won't be a problem voting to do that to fund police officers locally, which is what I wanted to do from the beginning," says Cooksey. Cooksey was the only council member to vote against requesting the stimulus money. He said he did so because he opposes stimulus money on principle. City Council is expected to accept the federal money late next month. Police Chief Monroe says the 50 new officers will be on the streets by February.