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What to do if your agency is struggling to find funding

While many agencies are facing funding challenges, cutbacks are not always plausible. Here are some effective strategies to deal with financial struggles

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This article is reprinted with permission from Kustom Signals

As many businesses across the nation continue to struggle, nonprofits and agencies, including all levels of law enforcement have also been hit with staffing and financial concerns.

According to a recent report, data analysis done by the U.S. Census Bureau indicates police budgets grew from $44 billion to $123 billion between 1977 and 2019. While this would seem to suggest better-funded police forces, these budgets have been largely offset by an expansion in districts, higher population numbers, and overall increased expenses often put a strain on a department’s financial stability.

In a study done by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), two reasons are cited for rising policing costs:

  • Increase in personnel costs
  • Demand for policing services

While many law enforcement agencies are facing funding challenges, cutbacks are not always a plausible solution. Below are some effective places to start in dealing with financial struggles within your agency.

Evaluate your agency’s income and expenses

Law enforcement agencies, like any other organizations, need to effectively manage their finances to ensure they can provide essential services while operating within their budget. Evaluating income and expenses involves steps like establishing a budget, evaluating income, expense tracking, periodic financial review, conducting internal audits, and cost analysis. Using financial software or systems to manage income and expenses can help automate processes, generate reports, and provide insights into the agency’s financial health.

Consider areas for cost-cutting

Once your agency’s income and expenses have been assessed, it will be easier to identify and evaluate areas that may need cost-cutting or at least a freezing of expenditures until the financial crisis begins to ebb. Some areas for cost-cutting may include staff reductions, downsizing of non-essential space, and the re-evaluation of programs that may no longer be needed or that are simply not working.

A recent article from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) offers several ideas for rethinking police budgeting. These “new rules” are better suited for today’s law enforcement agencies’ demands and circumstances. Some ideas the article suggests include:

  • Historical precedent should not determine future spending. Look for new approaches to cost-effectively achieve community goals.
  • Give prevention a chance. Open the door to thinking about how to prevent the problems.
  • Look for smart, strategic ways to save money. The money to enhance public safety capabilities can come from reallocating funds or doing things differently.

One example of this approach is the way Kustom Signals has assisted underfunded law enforcement agencies with solutions for dealing with police staffing issues. These include tools like RADAR speed trailers and speed displays, which can expand police presence without the deployment of officers. Speed awareness installations also slow drivers down to prevent traffic incidents that take up police time and resources.

Determine ways to bring in extra funds

Law enforcement agency spending varies greatly by area, but in many cases, departments have become reliant upon federal funding to keep budgets in line. Beyond cuts and hoping for federal funding increases versus decreases, it can be beneficial to look at various grants or organizations that may offer solutions for your agency.

Assistance through Police Grants Help

Kustom Signals is proud to partner with PoliceGrantsHelp, an organization that provides assistance to the first responder community. PoliceGrantsHelp offers extensive and comprehensive resources for grant information and assistance. Through Kustom Signals and PoliceGrantsHelp, your law enforcement agency has the opportunity to receive grant assistance in multiple areas. Grant assistance is available for our industry-leading speed enforcement equipment, body cameras, and in-car video technology

Our free customized grant help ranges from application reviews from team experts to research and grant alert notices. We are excited to be able to partner with PoliceGrantsHelp and help agencies across the nation that may be struggling financially with budgeting constraints. Learn more about this unique opportunity.

Read more from Kustom Signals here.