During COVID-19 many headlines surrounding the crisis look the same. These headlines focus on the challenges facing the public health issues that focus almost entirely on the people infected by COVIID-19 or those who are economically impacted by the near-shutdown of the economy as a result. But there are other issues that this virus may be causing, and they can be pretty significant. Berkeley County, in West Virginia, has applied for and been awarded a grant from the Department of Justice to deal with public safety issues that have resulted from the outbreak of COVID-19.
This grant funding in the amount of which was awarded to the Berkley City Council has been awarded as part of the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The DOJ plans to award more of the public safety grants on an ongoing basis.
U.S Attorney Bob Powell made this announcement on Thursday, saying:
Communities across the district are in need of assistance. I am happy to announce this funding for Berkeley County, offering to fund for expenses such as medical supplies, protective gear, hiring of additional staff, and overtime in relation to the county’s response the COVID-19 pandemic.
The relief package does give jurisdictions some flexibility in how to spend these funds, but generally, the funds should be spent on hiring personnel, being able to pay overtime to workers, purchasing essential protective equipment for workers, distributing resources to harder hit affected areas, as well as addressing the medical needs of
Katharine T. Sullivan, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Program spoke on the DOJ awarding these funds as part of the relief program:
“The outbreak of COVID-19 and the public health emergency it created are sobering reminders that even the most routine duties performed by our nation’s public safety officials carry potentially grave risks,”
“These funds will provide hard-hit communities with critical resources to help mitigate the impact of this crisis and give added protection to the brave professionals charged with keeping citizens safe.”
These kinds of funds are supercritical during times of crisis to ensure that public safety is maintained. There are countless stories of inmates getting the virus in jails and prisons due to overcrowding and guards and other staff are at constant risk as well. Ensuring that public safety is maintained throughout the jurisdictions that have applied for this assistance and are important both for the safety of the inmate population as well as those living in impacted communities.