The Justice Department is compensating Washington-area police departments whose help was instrumental during the three-week sniper investigation.

Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., police departments will split a total of $2.5 million, which will cover about 58 percent of their reported overtime expenses.

Maryland police departments will get nearly $1 million to compensate officers, while Virginia police will receive a total of $1.2 million and the Metropolitan Police Department will get $290,000.

The Montgomery County Police Department, home of Chief Charles A. Moose, the most visible official in the sniper investigation, will receive nearly $602,000 of the $982,000 that is Maryland's share of the grant. Prince George's County Police, where several shootings occurred, will get $231,000. Maryland State Police, and two local city police forces — Gaithersburg and Rockville — will share in the rest.

Gaithersburg Assistant City Manager Fred Felton said the $18,000 they are getting "isn't a huge amount of money, but we're grateful for it."

Montgomery County officials are also "very appreciative for the reimbursement," said spokeswoman Lucille Baur.

"Obviously this investigation was one that could not be budgeted for," Baur said. "How it will actually be used is still to be determined."

Moose learned of the payback in a letter sent Wednesday from Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., confirming that the department would receive some money.

The Justice Department grant also provides $8,649 to be split between the jurisdictions for administrative costs.

Maryland and Virginia senators requested the financial assistance in a letter to Attorney General John D. Ashcroft on Oct. 23, one day before the sniper suspects were arrested.

"The financial costs to state and local governments in the 'sniper investigation' are very significant and mounting," the senators wrote.

The senators felt the local and state police departments should be compensated because of the "excessive amount of people hours involved" in the investigation, said Jesse Jacobs, spokesman for Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, D-Md.

The attacks began Oct. 2, killing 10 and wounding three in Maryland, Virginia and the District before the suspects were arrested Oct. 24.

The Justice Department notified Sen. John Warner, R-Va., last Friday that it had approved the grant.

Jacobs could not say when the money might be released. "I assume it will be soon," he said.

"Anything we receive is going to be, particularly in these tight budget times, a benefit to us," said Maryland State Police spokesman Lt. Bud Frank.