U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
Starr County Sheriff's Department
Rio Grande City, Texas
July 14, 1998
The Office of the Inspector General, Audit Division, has completed an audit of two grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), to the Starr County Sheriff's Department in Rio Grande City, Texas. Starr County received a grant of $49,347 to hire one deputy under the Funding Accelerated for Smaller Towns (FAST) program and $663,350 to hire ten deputies under the Universal Hiring Program (UHP). The purpose of the additional officers is to enhance community policing.
Starr County did not meet the terms and conditions of the grant; therefore, we are questioning $131,625 of funds reimbursed under the FAST and UHP grants at the time of our audit. In addition, $301,118 should be withheld as funds to better use because Starr County did not hire all of the deputies awarded under the grants; they overstated salaries and benefits in the grant applications; they did not enhance community policing; and they did not develop a formal retention plan.
We found the following discrepancies with regard to meeting the grant conditions:
- Starr County supplanted county-funded deputy positions with COPS grant funds.
- The county's community policing efforts were not enhanced with the award of grant funds.
- The Starr County Sheriff's Department filled only 7 of 11 positions awarded under the grants and did not have any intention to fill the 4 remaining positions.
- Total allowable costs in both the FAST and UHP grant applications were overstated.
- A formal retention plan was not developed for continuing the employment of the grant-funded deputies at the end of the grant period.
- Starr County did not allow for a decreasing Federal share in their requests for payments.
- The Department Initial Report, due when Starr County accepted the FAST grant, and two Officer Progress Reports for 1996 were not submitted to the COPS Office.
- The Department Annual Report for 1996 was submitted, but contained several errors in the COPS activities.
- The Department Annual Report and Officer Progress Reports for 1997 were not submitted as of April 15, 1998.
- The Financial Status Reports included $3,325 in questioned costs due to unallowable expenditures submitted in their grant applications.
- Four of seven Financial Status Reports were submitted late to OJP.