BETHLEHEM- Northampton County Police are set to receive a major infusion of cash from the County Gaming Revenue and Economic Redevelopment Authority. More directly, the cash is coming from the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.
All told, the revenue sent into the fund by the resort for the second round of grant awards this year amounted to $476,830. From that amount, the authority will be sending $188,107 of it to various municipal police departments that can demonstrate how the funds will help them offset the cost of having the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem.
This follows on the heels of a $407,000 grant issued to the Northampton County Police Department back in April of this year.
In April, Northampton County police had filed for a grant that would come from that fund. They hoped to add a Regional Intelligence and Investigation Center (or RIIC). The center is essentially a database that would contain millions of reports that would include all prison and arrest records.
They originally applied for a $407,000 grant to enable Northampton County to join the RIIC.
In that first round of funding, 13 total grants were awarded, for a total of $1.6 million. In addition to the Northampton County Police department, the Freemansburg Police Department funded the retention of one office while Bethlehem Township purchased two new police vehicles.
There have been two major criticisms of this funding program. One criticism is that the funding is not guaranteed going into the future, so police departments are accruing recurring expenses without guarantees that those expenses will be met by this fund. This raises the possibility that windfalls today will lead to tax increases later.
Another criticism of the funding program is that it creates an unnatural alliance between the Sands Casino Resort and the police departments, where the funding of their new programs, retention of officers, purchasing and maintenance of new equipment is dependent on the success of a business continuing to provide funding to them. Some have been more direct in calling it “legalized graft,” where cops are being legally paid to protect the interests of the casino.
Here is how the money was distributed this round:
2016 Restricted Grants Round 2
Bethlehem Township, $50,915 to buy one police vehicle.
Hanover Township, $11,675 for police ballistics vests.
Hellertown, $43,626 for a police SUV.
Lower Saucon Township, $24,981 for an unmarked police vehicle.
Freemansburg, $15,788 for police protective equipment.
Freemansburg, $41,122 for police license plate recognition systems.
2016 Uncommitted Round
Nazareth, $25,000 for police patrol and safety enhancement.
Palmer Township, $25,000 for police ballistics protection project.
Stockertown, $25,000 for a new police vehicle.
Forks Township, $25,000 for replacement of an all-wheel drive police vehicle.
Bangor, $25,000 for a new emergency response vehicle.
Walnutport, $25,000 for a new police unit.
Lower Mount Bethel Township, $24,420 for speed radar devices.
North Catasauqua, $25,000 for equipment upgrades.
Tatamy, $11,342 for emergency services.
Glendon, $25,000 for town hall improvements.
Bath, $20,231 for emergency services equipment upgrades.
Wilson Borough, $24,630 to replace self-contained breathing apparatus equipment.
Hanover Township, $8,100 for speed/message boards.