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Star City PD to purchase new cruisers with DOJ grant

STAR CITY — Residents of Star City will soon see some new police cruisers on the street thanks to a grant the town received from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The $278,730 grant was part of the DOJ Rural and Small Department Violent Crime Reduction Program, which supports rural communities in their efforts to combat violent crime.

Star City Police Chief Jessica Colebank wrote the grant proposal and was happy to hear Star City was selected as one of only 200-300 departments nationally to receive the funding.

“I just took a shot in the dark and said ‘Hey, let’s try for this because we need some new cars,’” Colebank said. “They’re almost to the point where they’re spending more money to get them fixed than they are on the road.”

Colebank said they are hoping to purchase four new cars that will be fully police outfitted and equipped for the road and patrol or anything officers need.

“We have police cruisers now,” Colebank said, “but with technology advancing and everything like that it’s hard to keep up.”

Much like smart phones and other devices where you buy the newest version and suddenly there’s two newer models the second you buy it, Colebank said police work is much the same.

“We have to keep up with technology and these older cars aren’t built to handle that technology, so we have to upgrade,” she explained.

Colebank estimated that just a car alone could be around $43,000 with an additional $15,000-$20,000 once it is outfitted with the proper equipment. A vehicle equipped for Abel, the department’s K-9 officer, would add around another $5,000.

“You’re looking at $70,000 per vehicle, easily,” Colebank estimated.

The chief said this was her first venture into grant writing and it was an eye-opening experience.

“You have to put in the time, you have to put in the work and say, ‘We want that funding, and this is why we want it,’” she said. “These aren’t done in one day; this took months of research and drafts … trying to figure out how to write this.”

“I can’t thank her enough for it,” said Star City Mayor Sharon Doyle. “She did a lot of this work on her own time and she worked hard. We’re really lean in the grant-writing resource pool, but we are hopeful to get that moving forward so we can apply for more grants for the town. As for this one in particular, it’s huge for Star City. Jessica outdid herself on this one.”

Colebank said there are still some hoops to jump through to get the funding, but once that is done, they should see the money come through in the next few months.

“While we got the award letter saying congratulations,” she said, “there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

One of those things will be building a stronger connection with the community through a survey that will help pinpoint problem areas in the town and where residents think law enforcement is on response to those problems.

“Is it drugs in your neighborhood, neighbor disputes, what can we help with? Community involvement is key to this,” Colebank said.

The department hopes to receive the funding sometime in the next few months and is hoping to have the new cruisers on the road by Jan. 1, however that will depend on when the funding is received and the availability of police cruisers at that time.

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