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Law enforcement grant-funding opportunities in FY2021

Key areas to secure funds to keep your communities safe


On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, a legislative package that funds the federal government and provides $900 billion in urgent coronavirus relief.

What’s in the Bill?

The U.S. Department of Education will receive $82 billion that can be used toward emergency relief for K-12, higher education and Indian education. The Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Transportation Administration will administer $45 billion to support state highways, Amtrak, airlines and associated transportation expenses. Already the U.S. Treasury is rolling out $600 to qualified individuals for a total budget amount of $166 billion, with additional agencies administering funds going towards expansion of broadband services, unemployment payments, rental assistance, and telehealth services.

The full text of the bill is available here.

What’s not in the Bill?

Left out of the FY2021 supplemental is additional funding for state and local governments to address revenue losses. Nor will you find a line item for hazard pay for first responders. So what does this mean?

First, let’s back up to the title of the Bill. This is the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, even though it was approved during calendar year 2020. With that in mind, we need members of the public safety community to pivot their efforts to upcoming grants in the approved federal budget. Keep in mind that the feds operate on an Oct. 1–Sept. 30 schedule.

As is common after an election year, release dates for requests for proposals (RFPs) have changed. Funds under the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FEMA traditionally are posted in early Spring, but many of these grants are starting to open now. As of the end of December, 30 justice department grant opportunities have opened during the first quarter of the FY2021 budget. A copy of the DOJ Program Plan can be found here.

The following are a few key areas to help secure funds to keep your communities safe.

Records Improvement

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is making available $53,000,000 for the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) in fiscal year (FY) 2021. This year, BJS is prioritizing the use of funds for two purposes:

  1. To improve reporting of dispositions;
  2. To improve reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) of persons who are prohibited from possessing firearms for reasons related to mental health.

Record Improvement Programs will play a key role in enabling departments to be eligible for other funding. Per Executive Order 13929 Safe Policing for Safe Communities, the Attorney General determined that all state, local, and university or college law enforcement agencies must be certified by an approved independent credentialing body or have started the certification process no later than January 31, 2021, to be eligible for FY 2021 DOJ discretionary grant funding.

Part of the certification process involves policies that adhere to all applicable federal, state and local laws, along with policies prohibiting chokeholds except in situations where use of deadly force is allowed by law. The requirements are applicable to both the approved applicant and all law enforcement sub-awardees. The applicants for these funds are often State Police agencies; however, we encourage departments to contact their State Awarding Agency (SAA) for correct contact information.

For detailed information on the new certification requirement, review the Principles on Safe Policing and Use of Force, Implementation Fact Sheet and List of Credentialing Bodies.

Working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office

The Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) grant and programs funded under the SMART suite are back for FY2021. After a few years of being a competitive grant, Project Safe Neighborhoods is once again a non-competitive grant. That means that every U.S. Attorney’s Office will be allocated funding to reduce violent crime, including, but not limited to, addressing criminal gangs and the felonious possession and use of firearms.

The PSN allocation list can be found here. Associated programs are being tracked by our PoliceGrantsHelp team of experts. Free consults are available for sponsored products.


Funding is available to aid state and local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to address mental health issues. Resources are currently available under the Department of Justice, as well as the Department of Health. The following grant was due on Feb. 5, 2021. It is included here to encourage departments to begin working on building partnerships in advance of the next round of funding.

Mental Health Awareness Training Grants Application

Oversite Agency: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).


The purpose of this program is to:

  • Train individuals (e.g., school personnel, emergency first responders, law enforcement, veterans, armed services members and their families) to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental disorders, particularly serious mental illness (SMI) and/or serious emotional disturbances (SED);
  • Establish linkages with school- and/or community-based mental health agencies to refer individuals with the signs or symptoms of mental illness to appropriate services;
  • Train emergency services personnel, law enforcement, fire department personnel, veterans, and others to identify persons with a mental disorder and employ crisis de-escalation techniques;
  • Educate individuals about resources that are available in the community for individuals with a mental disorder.

Anticipated award amount: Up to $125,000 per year.

Length of project: Up to five years.

Cost-sharing/match required? No.

Tip: Smaller departments may do well to partner with nearby departments to apply for a comprehensive training initiative.

Protecting the protectors

“Good mental and psychological health is just as essential as good physical health for law enforcement to be effective in keeping our country and our communities safe from crime and violence.” — COPS Office Community of Practice

Recently, the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) established the first-ever Community of Practice for state, local and tribal grantees to connect, learn, share experiences and network in an effort to continue the growth of law enforcement mental health and wellness work. According to the press release, this new Community of Practice will provide the guidance, assistance, resources and support needed to further develop solutions to keep law enforcement safe and well, as they keep our communities safe and well.

Working with the COPS Office, the National Police Foundation will host a series of ongoing webinars each quarter that will provide insight on a number of topics including:

  • How to start a wellness program for small, medium and large agencies;
  • Identifying needed resources, including staffing, and scoping a program consistent with the available resources;
  • Extending mental health and wellness to family members.

New for FY2021: Two Deadlines for FY 2021 Solicitations

In FY 2021, applications will be submitted in a new two-step process, each with its own deadline:

  • Step 1: Applicants submit an SF-424 and an SF-LLL in
  • Step 2: Applicants submit the full application, including attachments, in JustGrants.

Read the solicitation document carefully for further guidance.

PoliceGrantsHelp assistance to departments

PoliceGrantsHelp provides grant assistance by category through direct assistance request forms. Once a department submits a form from the sponsored categories, there are three options for assistance:

  • Find grants to fund your project or program by subscribing to Police GrantFinder: a subscription research database focused on police grants for law enforcement. Contact us today for more information.
  • Hire a grant writer: Get hands-on assistance writing and preparing your grant application. Contact us today for more information on grant writing services!
  • Get free help: Sponsored assistance is available if you aren’t sure where to start.