- Types of law enforcement grants
- Determining the right grant for your agency
- Preparing to apply for a law enforcement grant
Around the country, the 50 largest cities decreased their law enforcement funding for 2021 by 5.2% amid the pandemic and calls to decrease police spending in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
In some cities, the cuts have been severe.
With public pressure on them, mayors and city councils responded. In 2020 budget votes, advocacy groups won over $840 million in direct cuts from US police departments and at least $160 million investments in community services, according to an analysis by Interrupting Criminalization, an initiative at the Barnard Center for Research on Women. In 25 cities, such as Denver and Oakland, officials moved to remove police from schools, saving an additional $34 million.
The pandemic also weighed on civic budgets as tax revenues dropped, leading to decreases across the board.
As a result, many law enforcement agencies have been faced with depleted budgets and resources. This is a tough challenge as agencies like yours strive to better serve your community.
Law enforcement grants are a key resource for filling in funding gaps. In this article, we’ll explore these grants in depth. They are available from a variety of sources, and they can be applied to several different aspects of policing.
For example, there is an accreditation funding grant application, which goes toward supporting your agency as it moves into the accreditation process.
While it’s good news that funding help is available, it can be a complicated process to apply for law enforcement grants. And you’ll be competing for these resources against other agencies. We’ll explore both the specific types of grants as well as provide guidance on putting together grant applications.
Our goal is to have you confident and prepared as you start your own law enforcement grant application.
Types of law enforcement grants
Law enforcement grants are available to fund specific aspects of policing. The first step in considering a grant application is to understand what types of grants are available.
Think of it this way: You want the purpose of the grant to align with the needs of your organization.
Many grants are available through the COPS grant program through the U.S. Department of Justice, but there are other sources available as well, including the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. Grant money was made available through the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which added grant funding that supports accountability and community engagement.
These grants typically fall into these main areas:
Let’s explore each of these in depth.
Grant funding for equipment
Law enforcement grants for equipment are available to help agencies acquire various types of equipment to be used in policing.
The main equipment grant available is the 1033 Program, which runs through the Defense Logistics Agency. By joining the program, you become eligible to apply for and receive excess Department of Defense equipment.
Through this program, thousands of agencies have gained additional equipment, which they otherwise would have needed to purchase.
To start this process, you first complete a DLA application.
Grant funding for technology
A second realm of law enforcement grants provide support for technology. Police Tech News has a comprehensive list of available technology grants.
Some areas include support for virtual reality training for officers, drones, body-worn cameras, and more. In Ohio, the state government created a $5 million grant to assist agencies with acquiring body cameras, and several states have similar programs.
This area often focuses on training, which is an increasing focus. n the state of Georgia alone, the governor announced $6.7 million in grants for law enforcement training.
Grant funding for accreditation
A new initiative of the COPS program is the Community Policing Development (CPD) grant program, which started in June 2021. The goal of this program is to support law enforcement agencies as they work to hold themselves accountable through accreditation standards.
An accreditation funding grant application can help you financially support that process. For details on applying, you can read our guide to the CPD grant.
The recently passed Justice in Policing Act includes a provision that, “directs DOJ to create uniform accreditation standards for law enforcement agencies and requires law enforcement officers to complete training on racial profiling, implicit bias, and the duty to intervene when another officer uses excessive force.”
In the future, it is likely that the U.S. government will make funding available to support agencies in the accreditation process. It also could make accreditation a requirement for receiving any federal funds. Or it could use a combination of the two in order to push more agencies to gain accreditation.
Additional grants are available from federal and state agencies for accreditation costs such as investing in technology. The JAG Program also can be used to fund technology tools to assist accreditation.
Some states are creating funding programs to help with accreditation. Arkansas established The Public Safety Equipment Grant Program, which provides $41 million that could be used for accreditation and technology tools such as PowerDMS.
Other grants cover a wide variety of areas. You can review the full list of COPS grants to see which ones would be a good fit for your agency.
What law enforcement grants do you need?
Now that you have an overview of the types of grants, let’s look more specifically at each grant program and what you need in order to apply.
According to COPS, CPD program funds “are used to develop the capacity of law enforcement to implement community policing strategies by providing guidance on promising practices through the development and testing of innovative strategies; building knowledge about effective practices and outcomes; and supporting new, creative approaches to preventing crime and promoting safe communities.”
It’s designed to support pilot projects that focus on:
- Community Trust and Legitimacy
- Officer Engagement
- Youth Engagement
- Hate Crimes and Domestic Terrorism
- Community Violence Intervention
You can learn more at the CPD Microgrants program page on the COPS site.
To qualify, you must be a local, state, or tribal law enforcement agency. To apply, you must register at grants.gov and complete the required forms. The grant application takes place through the JustGrants system. Application materials are available at the program page.
The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program “provides states, tribes, and local governments with critical funding necessary to support a range of program areas including law enforcement, prosecution, indigent defense, courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, planning, evaluation, technology improvement, and crime victim and witness initiatives and mental health programs and related law enforcement and corrections programs, including behavioral programs and crisis intervention teams.”
This is a broadly defined grant that has benefitted dozens of agencies around the country.
The JAG Program has a wealth of information available at its FAQ page.
To get a sense of what is required for applicants, you should review the program’s requirements page. Each year, JAG will post its application deadlines and standards, and so you should check back regularly as the funding cycle opens.
The 1033 Program is open to all law enforcement agencies. By applying, you can then request decommissioned Department of Defense equipment. This includes a wide range of materials maintained in a searchable database.
You can find all the information for the program at its page on the Defense Logistics Agency site.
If you are a law enforcement agency, you qualify. To apply, first you must become a member of the Law Enforcement Support Office. Active members receive a DOD Activity Address Code, which allows LESO to track property. You then will gain access to search for and request equipment.
Additional COPS Programs
COPS manages several other law enforcement grants that focus on areas such as school violence prevention, hiring, mental health, and illegal drugs. These can change from year to year, and so it is important to check back to the COPS site for updates as grants are made available.
COPS has a four-step application process:
- First, get a Data Universal Numbering Systems (DUNS) number at fedgov.dnb.com/webform
- Ensure you have active registration with the System for Award Management (SAM) database
- Register at grants.gov and complete the required forms
- Sign up for notifications of COPS funding opportunities
Preparing to apply for a law enforcement grant
A good grant application takes time. Each granting body will receive dozens, if not hundreds, of applications. You can increase your chances by first making sure that the grant matches the needs of your organization. Most of the time, you will need to demonstrate that need in your application.
Secondly, you’ll want to create the best application possible, one that fully demonstrates how you will put funding or equipment support to good use.
Some other key steps to prepare:
- Set a realistic goal that you want to achieve, because most grants require you to report on your progress.
- Give yourself plenty of time, because grant applications and reporting can take up a significant amount of hours.
- Have all your credentials ready. Read up on requirements beforehand so that you don’t have to scramble at the deadline.
- Review qualifications carefully. If you don’t meet the standards, your application might be disqualified.
- Get help, either from subject matter experts or from communications professionals to take on the writing portion of the application.
- Demonstrate the need and importance. Show how this funding will make a difference in your jurisdiction.
- Create a reasonable budget.
- Don’t forget any attachments.
- Follow all guidelines. You don’t want to have your application thrown out on a technicality.
- Give it one final review to check for errors or anything missing.
In an era when funding is on the decline, law enforcement grants can make a big difference in bridging the gap. They can also help your agency as it works to improve its standards and meet the high demands of the job.
Before you dive into an application, make sure you understand the needs of your department and match that to the best fit among available grants.
Particularly, accreditation is a strong focus of current policing legislation. If you’d like to read more on this topic, check out our learning center topic, How Accreditation Helps Law Enforcement Agencies.
Your agency can receive support that will help in the accreditation process, which can include support for accreditation-management technology solutions such as PowerDMS.
Law enforcement grants are available to help. Go out and find the right ones to support you and your work.