GUSTINE - The city has landed a three-year grant to add a police officer to its ranks.

City Manager Doug Dunford said the nearly $295,000 grant was obtained through a tobacco education program administered by the federal Department of Justice.

“This grant will allow us to hire one additional police officer, with an emphasis on educating kids on the dangers of the tobacco,” said Dunford.

He explained the that additional officer will most likely be assigned as the school resource officer, with an emphasis on tobacco education and enforcement.

That officer will also work closely with the individual being hired to supervise a youth services program that will operate under the auspices of the Gustine Police Department. That program is being funded by a separate grant.

“They can work hand in hand on some things,” the city manager stated.

The new officer will bring the department to a total of nine sworn personnel. The department is fully staffed, Dunford noted.

With the new officer assuming school resource duties, Dunford said, the grant by extension puts an additional officer on the streets - no small consideration for a small department.

“It has a big impact,” he commented. “It will allow us more (flexibility) with our officers, and to be able to do more outreach to the kids again. This gives us a little more protection for the city, and the ability to conduct special (assignments) or community outreach as needed.”

Dunford said he hopes to have the additional officer on board by April or May.

He said the city’s Washington, D.C., based grant-writing firm Capitol Advocacy Partners wrote the successful grant application.

Dunford said the firm has landed a number of important grants for the city, including the nearly $700,000 grant that will fund the youth services bureau and enhanced mental health resources in local schools.

The company also took the lead in writing the $650,000 grant for purchase of a new fire truck due for delivery this spring, and in the past has successfully written two grants that each funded one additional police officer position for the local department.

“She has done a fantastic job for us,” Dunford said of the city’s grant writer.

He said the City Council will be asked to formally accept the grant at its Jan. 19 meeting.