The York County Sheriff’s Office and police departments in Cumberland and Yarmouth will benefit from federal Community Oriented Policing Services grants designed to augment departments with veterans.

York County Sheriff Maurice Ouellette, whose department received funding for two officers, said the agency will probably assign them to towns currently without police departments to improve public safety and community contact in those municipalities.

“It brings the town and citizens and the department closer so when we do have issues there, we have a pretty good handle on what’s going on there and we know where to go and it helps the community feel a lot safer also,” Ouellette said.

The grants are for four years, providing partial funding for an entry level officer plus benefits for the first three years with the agency paying the full amount in the fourth year. The grants are for $125,000 per officer. Cumberland, Yarmouth and Madison police departments each received grant funding for one officer.

The sheriff’s office will use its $250,000 grant to hire a new officer and restore a position which was eliminated a year and a half ago because of budget cuts, which is allowable under the Department of Justice program.

“We are the largest police department in York County and given the geography and given the kind of cases we’ve been doing over the last few years, it just helps supplement a very low-staffed department,” he said. The county is 585 square miles, he said.

All new positions created in the $111 million 2012 COPS hiring program must be filled with veterans who have served at least 180 days in the military since Sept. 11, 2001. A similar program for firefighters will give veterans jobs that leverage the skills they learned in the military, according to a  release from the White House.

“At a time of budget shortfalls, these grants will provide opportunities for much-needed, highly-trained professionals – with a proven commitment to service – to continue their careers in communities all across the country,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in the release.

“This new opportunity for veterans is a commitment to support those who are coming home from their tour of duty,” Bernard Melekian, COPS Office Director, said in the release.

The competitive grants were awarded to departments based on fiscal need and local crime rates.

Ouellette said the department has hired veterans to work for the department, who bring their unique skill sets and familiarity with the quasi-military culture of the police.