The Lee County Sheriff’s Department will be increasing its sta

The Lee County Sheriff’s Department will be increasing its staff.

The department learned Thursday it had been approved for $294,260.09 in federal grant money from the COPS FAST program. The money will pay the salaries of three new deputies over the next three years. It will also pay the salary of one deputy who was hired under the program in March.

The three deputies are expected to join the sheriff’s department within the next three weeks. With the additions, the department will have 16 full-time field deputies.

The COPS FAST money will pay 75 percent of the new deputies’ salaries the first year, with the county paying the remaining 25 percent.

Lee County Sheriff Harold Ray Presley said this is the first large increase in staff in more than four years.

Deputies have been hired as replacements over that period, Presley said, but did not increase the number of deputies on the roads.

President Clinton announced on Wednesday funding for 8,882 additional law enforcement officers nationwide through the COPS FAST program.

All told, there are 18 other counties and towns in Northeast Mississippi that will increase staff with the grant money. The Tupelo Police Department is expected to get six new officers.

Cynthia M. Jeffries

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