10:23 PM PDT on Sunday, October 3, 2010

By DUG BEGLEY
The Press-Enterprise

Riverside’s new Police Department leadership will have 15 more positions to work with as they evaluate where best to put resources, officials said last week.

The Police Department was among the 8 percent of applicants that received a Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice. Riverside will receive $5.1 million to train, equip and pay the officers.

Joining Riverside in receiving grants were Fontana, which got $1.7 million for five officers, and Banning, which got nearly $792,000 for two officers.

“This is Christmas in September for us,” said Riverside Assistant Chief Christopher Vicino. “We were very excited.”

But it will take months for the new officers to start patrolling Riverside, Vicino said. At least four officers with other police departments have expressed interest in joining Riverside police, he said. Other positions could be filled with new applicants, who would have to complete a six-month academy with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

When the new hires arrive, they will be welcome, Vicino said. Councilman Andy Melendrez agreed.

“It allows more flexibility for our current officers,” Melendrez said. “And it allows for our chief to spread the resources of the police around to better serve the communities.”

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