Bizzarro, Merski, Harkins: Nearly $155,000 awarded for law enforcement coronavirus preparedness

ERIE, June 10 – Erie law enforcement will be able to apply for up to $154,780 in emergency funding to address challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today.

The lawmakers said
the federal Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding – administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency – will fund critical protections for workers and the communities they serve.

“I know from my work as a victim/witness coordinator and victims’ rights advocate how much of our criminal justice system depends on face-to-face, time-sensitive work such as interviewing witnesses and supporting and treating crime victims,” Bizzarro said. “This funding is going to help address the added challenges staff face in carrying out those essential duties safely in the midst of the pandemic.”

Harkins said, “Law enforcement agencies and staff already face a host of challenges, and the pandemic has added another whole layer of logistical problems. Containing the spread of COVID-19 – whether in our county jails, juvenile detention centers, courthouses or the general community – requires resources and planning. This funding will help our agencies implement infection control and keep our dedicated criminal justice workers safe in the field.”

Merski said the funding will support a broad range of resources.

“Protecting our criminal justice workers and the citizens they serve requires a mix of personnel- and equipment-based resources,” Merski said. “Fortunately, our county will be able to use this funding for a wide range of needs, from addressing inmates’ medical issues, to purchasing and distributing critical supplies and personal protective equipment, to hiring extra staff, providing training and furnishing overtime pay.”

Of the $850 million in CESF funding designated for state and local law enforcement assistance nationwide, PCCD was eligible to apply for a state share of approximately $17.6 million. Of that amount, PCCD said $8 million in CESF dollars is being made available now, based on an “unprecedented need to immediately address” COVID-19 prevention, preparedness and response.

The funding is for 24-month projects and will be distributed using a formula based on each county’s population size, with a base allocation amount of $40,000.