NORWAY — Police Chief Rob Federico has been notified that the department has been awarded a $149,314 “COPS” grant that will be used to hire another police officer for the next three years.

The money is part of a $5,098,572 U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services grant that has been awarded to 18 communities in Maine, including Norway, Mexico, Fryeburg, Auburn and Lewiston.

“Yes I sure am,” Federico said when asked if he was surprised by the award. Federico said the town was competing against large cities such as Bangor and Portland for the money. “We are one of the smallest.”

Federico approached selectmen earlier this year about applying for federal money to fund an additional officer. At the time Federico said he hoped to use the officer to fill the shifts of an existing officer who would then concentrate his time in Rowe Elementary School on drug education and in the streets doing drug enforcement.

Norway and two neighboring towns hired a part-time drug investigator in 2006 and funded the position on a full-time basis the following year. But by 2008, Norway residents felt they had not seen enough results to warrant funding the position again. Since that time, the police department trained an officer to investigate illegal drug activity and related crimes, according to information provided by Federico.

Federico said he expects to talk to selectmen next week at their board meeting about how to proceed with the hiring process.

Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins issued a joint statement Tuesday about the funding saying, “These funds will greatly help to improve Maine’s ability to address criminal justice and public safety issues. This $5 million in grant funding will help make communities throughout Maine safer by providing the state with 30 additional officers.”

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