Find funding for what you need: Equipment

Law enforcement agencies provide basic equipment for their officers within their annual budget, the equipment that’s needed in order to perform patrol and enforcement duties efficiently and safely.

But often additional funding is necessary to purchase equipment that can improve an officer’s performance or increase safety. Updated equipment and new technologies can save time and money, two things often in short supply in these tough economic times, but the high cost of this equipment puts it out of the reach of many agencies.

There are funding resources available you can take advantage of to purchase equipment and technology you can’t afford within your own budget.

Many agencies already make use of the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG), provided by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, US Department of Justice, to improve criminal justice at the local level. Two separate streams of funds are available – one goes directly to local jurisdictions (cities and/or counties) and the other to each state. The states are charged with distributing these funds and most include local law enforcement agencies as appropriate recipients. The basic nature of JAG allows for its use to be determined at the state and local levels (within the basic guidelines of the federal government), so each agency responsible for the program does it differently. Check with the JAG website to find your State Administering Agency (SAA) and where the local funds go for your jurisdiction (city or county).

JAG funding should be available now or very soon, so contact these agencies as soon as possible to see what you need to do to receive funds for your equipment. Since this is a grant, you will most likely need to develop a project for the equipment you are requesting.

If you are looking for traffic enforcement-related equipment, such as cameras, radar and lasers, check with your state highway agencies, including Departments of Transportation and Highway Safety.  Often, these departments have determined specific topics they want to fund, which can relate to aggressive driving, DUI, bicycle or pedestrian safety, motorcycle safety and others. Topics are usually decided based on statistics, so your problem is probably their problem as well. However, you may need to “sell” your reasons for requesting funding, so have your own statistics to back up that need.

Bulletproof vests are another vital, and expensive, necessity.  The Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP), a program of the Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice, provides reimbursement for a percentage of each vest purchased, whether new or as a replacement for older vests. This is one of many funding resources that are formula-based and, reviewing recent funding cycles, it appears that smaller departments receive a larger percentage of the total cost. There is a basic 50% match required, but agencies can request a waiver of the match for financial hardships. When applying, you will estimate how many vests you will purchase in the next three years. Once you hit that number, you request reimbursement. Since you won’t be allowed to receive the funds until you have actually purchased the number of vests you stated, make sure your estimate is as accurate as possible.

In order to be eligible to receive this funding, agencies must have a mandatory-wear policy in place at the time of application, and the vests purchased must be on the authorized list. This year’s application is due by May 20, 2013, and will cover vests purchased after April 1, 2013. If you haven’t taken advantage of BVP, start today to ensure future benefits. But first check the website to see if you have any funds waiting for you from prior years.  Someone at your agency may have submitted an application in the past but not requested the reimbursement.

Non –government funders can also provide money for equipment, especially if you are asking for a relatively small amount. Agencies such as the National Rifle Association provide funding for a wide variety of law enforcement needs through their foundations. Check websites for additional information.

Don’t overlook your local businesses as potential sources of funding. Many, particularly franchises, provide either money or equipment directly to police agencies as part of their community commitment.  Even if they don’t have grant programs per se, they may be willing to assist you in procuring necessary equipment will improve the safety of the community.

It may take a little creative thinking, but there are resources out there that will allow you to stretch your limited budget for needed equipment. 

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