Eight Maryland police departments will be able to hire 112 new officers, including 50 in Baltimore, thanks to more than $23.2 million in federal stimulus grants.

Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Gov. Martin O'Malley announced the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants Tuesday in Philadelphia.

The Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing is distributing $1 billion through the COPS Hiring Recovery Program to more than 1,000 applicants across the country.

The grants, intended to help hire officers or rehire laid-off officers for community policing, cover entry-level salaries and benefits for the positions for three years. Each agency is required to pay the officers for a fourth year.

In Maryland, the police departments in Baltimore City and Prince George's County each will receive more than $10 million to hire 50 officers over a three-year period.

The six other Maryland police agencies receiving grants include the Salisbury force, which will get about $795,000 to hire four officers, and Laurel's, which is to receive $726,000 to hire three.

Bladensburg and the Riverdale Police Department, both in Prince George's County, will receive more than $200,000 for one position each. The Cambridge Police Department was awarded $356,000 for two positions, and the town of Princess Anne will receive $187,000 for one officer.

According to the governor's office, Maryland will use part of its stimulus funding to provide additional cash to the local police agencies - up to $10,000 per officer - so they can purchase equipment for their new hires, including radios, bulletproof vests and computers.

Maryland will also hire 25 crime analysts and help fund other technology projects, according to the governor's prepared remarks.

"This keeps people in uniform while helping us to improve public safety," said Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown. He added that he hopes that support for the program will be increased to levels seen during the Clinton administration, and called this funding "a good start."

The COPS grants are part of $4 billion in stimulus money distributed by the Justice Department for crime-fighting efforts, including programs to combat violence against women and Internet crimes against children. Nearly 7,300 applications were submitted for COPS grants, requesting $8.3 billion in assistance for more than 39,000 officers.

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