In the pages of Law Enforcement Technology we like to show you the newest and best in police equipment and technology for better training and improved safety on the streets. But we realize it’s not always an easy buy—in fact some things might linger on the “wish list” for years! That’s why, in addition to presenting you with all the bells and whistles of new tech, and the hopeful promise of scientific advances, we realize it’s equally important to keep cost-saving measures and funding solutions in mind. Luckily (depending on how you look at it), as more agencies struggle with balancing the budget, more options are becoming available for getting the equipment you need without breaking the bank.
Keep applying for those grants and ask vendors about alternatives to outright purchasing. Here’s a brief collection of resources to get you started.
Consulting and general assistance
Consulting firms can help to ease the often burdensome process of research, application and execution. Most firms offer grant writing workshops and services, and many are specifically designed to meet the needs of public safety.
Consultants here are former or current public safety employers, able to guide grant seekers through the application process and review applications prior to submittal. The website’s “Free Grants Prep Checklist” provides an ideal launchpad for grant writing.
Many companies now offer grants, rental or leasing options, too, including the likes of Sig Sauer and Hooker Tactical. If you are looking at a specific big ticket item it may be worth the phone call to find out whether a company has this type of policy. The company CopsEquip.com takes this one step further by provides financing to law enforcement for firearms and tactical gear—specifically handguns, long guns, personal protection and accessories. Here a prospective buyer would add desired equipment to his or her shopping cart, as well as complete a registration form to indicate he or she is an active LEO. Interest is dependent upon the borrower’s FICO score and ranges from 9.99 percent APR to 17.99 percent APR for a loan term up to forty-eight months. Minimum loan amount eligible for financing is $1,000. Agencies interested in purchasing firearms should contact their local FFL dealer before applying.
Perhaps your agency’s not looking for a grant per se (or you’re waiting for a grant to go through). In the meantime, you may want to consider rent/leasing options for equipment where it makes sense.
Community Oriented Policing Services Office (COPS) gives out grants that help law enforcement agencies hire more community policing officers, acquire new technologies and equipment, hire civilians for administrative tasks, and promote innovative approaches to solving crime. Sign up online to receive email updates for funding opportunities you might have missed.
National Institute of Justice
Although NIJ does not provide direct funding for equipment purchases and training beyond its Forensic Laboratory Enhancement Program, they do offer a number of sources for new and surplus equipment programs. For example, in the Surplus Property Donation Program each state and territory has a State Agency for Surplus Property (SASP) to receive Federal surplus personal property and donate it to public agencies and certain nonprofit, tax-exempt agencies.
In the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program the Bureau of Justice Assistance provides funding assistance to state, local, and tribal governments for the purchase of body armor. BJA matches up to 50 percent of the cost of the armor.
This website now houses information on over 1,000 grant programs and vets grant applications for 26 federal grant-making agencies. Public safety officers can search for a specific grant in a myriad of law enforcement disciplines and easily track grants that you have recently applied for.
In addition, Grants.gov points users to GrantsBenefits.gov should officers need personal and family financial assistance to help with medical bills, school loans, housing assistance, disaster recovery, etc. A free, confidential tool helps individuals find benefits they may be eligible to receive.
Department of Homeland Security
Apply for FEMA Non-Disaster Grants, Disaster Assistance, and some transportation. These funds generally are slated for local agency planning, equipment, training and exercise needs.
Keep in mind
As you prepare and finalize your grant applications, keep the following tips in mind so your hard work doesn’t end up at the bottom of a pile.
- Follow instructions. From something as simple as how to bind the papers (usually with a single binder clip) to electronic submittal guidelines.
- Use the requested formatting (single-sided paper or two-sided?).
- DON’T FORGET TO SIGN WITH THE APPROPRIATE SIGNATURE!
- Make sure the request matches the grant offering. In other words, don’t add in a request for patrol officers in a school resource officer application.
- Paint your agency in specifics, as a unique entity. Make sure they know you are a county sheriff or municipal PD—whatever the case may be. Be sure to indicate what sets you apart from neighboring agencies.
- Stay ahead of the deadline. This is one time when last-minute won’t cut it. You’ve spent all this time and effort applying for the grant; don’t take any chances with its delivery in the U.S. Mail!
There’s no time like the present to take a crack at your first grant draft. Read carefully and ask for help if you need it.