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The Salt Lake City Police Department is about to hire 15 new officers, thanks to a federal grant.

The department announced the award of the almost $1.9 million grant, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice, on Thursday. The news comes as city officials have called for more cops in light of what some have seen as an uptick in crime.

Last June, Councilman Charlie Luke had argued for hiring 20 new police officers, citing an increase in crime in his east-side district, as well as complaints that police response times were unacceptably long.

His proposal was in line with the Salt Lake Police Association. The union's leader, Michael Millard, cited statistics showing an increase in crime that he said had officers rushing from one call to the next.

The council endorsed the plan of hiring more officers through the federal grant.

The federal funds will help pay for the new 15 officers' salaries and benefits for three years. After that, the terms of the grant say the police department must retain the new officers for at least another year, according to a Salt Lake City police news release.

At least one of the 15 new officers must be a post-9/11 military veteran, the release adds.

Even after the first four years, the department intends to keep all of the newly hired officers, as they would any officer, said Detective Veronica Montoya, a spokeswoman for the department. The department normally hires about this many officers in any given year, she added.

The new officers will likely all be patrolling by next spring.

During the council's annual budget negotiations last summer, the city added eight new bike cops, as well as social workers to aid the cops when dealing with the homeless.

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