BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ The Bernards Township Committee gave approval this week for submission of a grant application for federal funding to hire two more township police officers.

If the grant application to the U.S. Cops Hiring Program (CHP) is successful, the funds would be used to hire one officer in 2021 a second in 2022, Township Administrator Pat Monaco told the Township Committee at last Tuesday's meeting.

CHP provides 75 percent of the approved entry-level salaries and fringe benefits of each newly hired and/or rehired full-time officer, up to $125,000 per officer position, over a three-year (36 month) grant period, according to a resolution approved by Township Committee members.

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After that, the township would be responsible for paying the officers' salaries, Monaco said.

Relative to the rest of Somerset County, Bernards Township's number of officers, 38 including the chief, is close to the lowest number of officers compared to overall population, Monaco added.

Bernards Township Police Chief Michael Shimsky recommended the Township Committee approve a grant application to the CHP for the hiring of two additional police officers, which would still place Bernards Township third from the bottom for police staffing, he said.

The Township Committee then authorized submission of the grant application for a part of the $400 million available through the United States Department of Justice's program.

The CHP program is a competitive solicitation, open to all state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies with primary local law enforcement authority, according to the resolution. Funding is available to provide funding to hire and re-hire entry level career law enforcement officers in order to increase community policing capacities and support crime prevention efforts, the resolution states.