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ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — The city of Rockford is expanding its police force with the help of a federal grant.

The Rockford Register Star reports the northern Illinois city has received a $625,000 grant from the Justice Department’s COPS Hiring Program. The money will help cover the cost of hiring five officers. They’re among 17 officers being hired this month.

Police Chief Dan O’Shea says the latest round of hiring should bring the department to just over 300 sworn officers. O’Shea says that’s the largest number of officers the department has had since he became chief nearly two years ago.

The federal grant lasts for three years and covers about half the cost of employing each officer. The city must agree to cover the cost for at least a fourth year.

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Information from: Rockford Register Star, http://www.rrstar.com