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(Washington, DC) -- U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today announced a $225,000 grant from the Department of Justice to hire three full-time police officers for the Skagit Valley Sheriff's Department's community policing efforts.

"Community policing has already helped us make great strides toward reducing crime in America," said Senator Murray. "Placing more police officers on our streets and in our neighborhoods helps to create a better way of life for everyone."

The grant is from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and is part of the larger Universal Hiring Program (UHP), established in 1994 with the goal of putting 100,000 more cops on the nation's streets. The COPS program has exceeded this goal and President Clinton and Members of Congress have proposed continuing the program for five years to add up to 50,000 more officers to the beat.

Funding under the grant will allow law enforcement agencies to help pay 75 percent of the salary and benefits of each officer over three years, up to a maximum of $75,000. The local police department will contribute the rest.

Murray supported the Crime Bill in 1994 that created the COPS program.

"Encouraging effective local solutions to our crime problems is common sense," said Senator Murray. "I will continue to support programs like this that support Washington state law enforcement."