As more servicemen come home from patrolling the steppes of Afghanistan some of them may transition to patrolling the roads of North Idaho.
The Kootenai County Sheriff's Department will receive a $500,000 grant to hire veterans as new deputies. This Department of Justice grant will create four new positions, and deputies say it will add some much needed man power to the roads across the county.
"We're excited about it; I have to tell you, because that's a good boost," Kootenai County Sheriff's Department Captain Dan Soumas said.
When the number of calls to the sheriff's department went up five percent since 2010 they worried their 49 patrol deputies would be stretched thin and services would decrease. With the DOJ grant though comes some relief.
"It's four more deputy sheriffs that will allow us for increased patrols, more pro-active patrols, and frankly we're not keeping up with our calls for service now. So we're hoping to decrease our response time," Capt. Soumas said.
The grant will be used to hire the deputies for three years. The county will chip in about $220,000 as well, but the federal government is mostly funding the salaries.
"Local property tax payers are seeing more of a return on their federal tax dollars than they would normally," Soumas said.
The department already has several deputies who are veterans who will be soon joined by a group of new veterans.
Among the vets in the department is Deputy William Klinkefus, who was deployed to Iraq with two other deputies from 2010 through 2011, and said a soldier's policing experience sets them above the rest.
"I can help bring that back to the department and utilize those skills to help out here," Klinkefus said.
The grant is designed to save or create 800 law enforcement jobs nationwide. The vets hired must have served at least six months in the military since 9-11. In Kootenai County they're excited to have four new deputies to help them patrol the community.
"A lot of good training; whether it's an Army guy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, they're all getting good training and they're all good, stand-up citizens. So, bringing those guys onboard would be great," Klinkefus said.
The deputies have not been hired yet, but when they are, it's expected to take one year before they can start patrolling the streets.