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Keweenaw area first responders receive grants

They are among 12 UP communities out of 60 to have received this award across the state
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 8:30 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Police departments in the Keweenaw are receiving funding from a grant benefitting first responders in over 60 communities across the state.

Each is being given a portion of $5M from the First Responder Training and Grant Program.

The Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office is among 12 emergency response departments in the U.P. to receive this award.

“We were recently awarded $82K through the Michigan Department of Treasury,” said Keweenaw County Sheriff Curt Pennala. “We’ll use it for training and recruitment of both officers and local first responders.”

Pennala said this will be a big help in tackling a national shortage in law enforcement staff. It would be used to also recruit local medical personnel and send recruitment candidates to academies.

“We have had some officers that have expressed interest, so we’ll go through a selection process, and this would be sending some of the guys through a local academy,” added Pennala.

The Laurium Village Police Department was also granted funding, approximately $74K.

Chief of Police Kurt Erkkila says he is hoping to hire another officer candidate and use some of the award to pay for their academy tuition.

“What we’re hoping with this is that we can get a candidate hired prior to going to the academy, and then sending them through with money we got from the grant,” said Erkkila.

With only four officers on the payroll, Erkilla says that handling an entire town can be challenging.

“Filling in vacations is where it really gets difficult, with three people trying to keep 24/7 coverage,” added Erkilla. “With four, it’s difficult, and it’s getting near impossible if you have two people available now to cover a weekend or something.”

For more information on the program and for a list of other U.P. departments that received an award, click here.

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