Sandy Springs Police Chief Ken DeSimone told the city council that the criminal investigative unit serves as a force multiplier for detectives and officers. (SSPD)

Sandy Springs City Council approved the acceptance of more than $1.6 million in grants that will enable the police department to hire three civilian employees and purchase equipment for its Violent Crime Reduction Team.

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget awarded the city $869,675 for staffing and $752,514 for equipment and technology in grants funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. The city does not have to match the grant.

“With the acceptance of this grant, we’ll establish the Violent Crime Reduction Program and the other funds we’ll use to increase the police department staffing by three: one civilian criminal intelligence analyst and two crime scene investigators in developing the violent crime reduction team,” Police Chief Ken DeSimone said.

The grants will fund two civilian crime scene investigators and one civilian criminal intelligence analyst. CSI training and forensic software user licenses will also be funded.

The grants will also allow the city to establish a cellular camera network for deployment in areas of the city experiencing higher crime. The city will purchase 35 cameras, cellular service, installation, maintenance, and license fees. It also funds a server for the camera network.

The city will add 20 license plate readers with the grant funds. Multiple agencies will be able to share crime data, jail booking data, crime mapping, predictive analytics, and reporting with the implementation of an Accurint Virtual Crime Center.

DeSimone said that if the city continues the program after grant funds run out as it’s currently structured, the continuing yearly cost would be approximately $127,655 for equipment and $325,000 for the additional positions.

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.