MONTPELIER, Vt. — Five Vermont law enforcement agencies are getting federal help in hiring more officers.

The office of U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy says the communities will receive nearly $600,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice’s COPS Hiring Program.

The program helps communities add officers to their ranks.

The grants are going to the Essex, Franklin and Orange county sheriff’s departments and police departments in Hardwick and Winhall.

Leahy says the funds are critical to small law enforcement agencies that would otherwise find it too costly to bring a new officer on board. He says that with the increase in opioid abuse and its inherent programs, law enforcement agencies are stretched to their limits.