What you need to know about the BJA's Smart Suite police grant initiative

The biggest change to the grant funding programs is that all grant applicants must work with a research partner

The Bureau of Justice (BJA) has re-examined the entire criminal justice system to see what is successfully working in the field to reduce crime, recidivism and what strategies are making our communities safer. The outcome of this re-examination is a newly ordered science-driven system of grant funding. The newly designed program brings law enforcement and research partners together to analyze and develop evidence-based law enforcement strategies and interventions which are “effective and economical.”  The names and goals of the grant funding programs are familiar, but some requirements under this new system are different. This renewed collection of grant programs is under the title “Smart Suite Initiative” (SPI).

The biggest change to the grant funding programs is that all grant applicants must work with a research partner. To ensure a grant initiative’s effectiveness, current SPI grantees work closely with BJA and BJA’s competitively funded training and technical assistance partner, the Center for Research Partnerships and Program Evaluation (CRPPE), to participate in information sharing sessions, facilitate peer-to-peer exchanges of information, access subject matter expertise that is relevant to specific SPI projects, and produce reports on the lessons learned from the SPI community. In addition, all SPI grantees are required to undergo a post-award analytic capacity assessment and to produce a project action plan in collaboration with BJA and its training and technical assistance partner.

Current BJA Smart Suite programs related to law enforcement are:

• Violent Gang and Gun Crime Reduction Program (formerly Project Safe Neighborhoods)
Violent Gang and Gun Crime Reduction Program (PSN) is designed to create safer neighborhoods through a sustained reduction in crime associated with gang and gun violence. The program is based on the cooperation of local, state, and federal agencies engaged in a unified approach led by the U.S. Attorney (USA) in each district. The USA is responsible for establishing a collaborative PSN task force of law enforcement and other community members to implement gang and gun crime enforcement, intervention, and prevention initiatives within the district. To learn more about PSN, visit www.bja.gov/PSN.

• Smart Policing Initiative
SPI is a collaborative consortium composed of BJA, CNA, and 31 local law enforcement agencies that are testing solutions to serious crime problems in their jurisdictions. To learn more about SPI, visit www.bja.gov/SPI.

•    Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Grant
The BCJI Initiative is a place-based program to reduce crime and revitalize communities. BCJI supports data- and research-driven projects to build and enhance the capacity of communities to create comprehensive strategies to address priority crime problems. This includes training and technical assistance to help build the capacity of the most distressed communities to develop comprehensive crime strategies. To learn more, visit www.bja.gov/BCJI.

•    Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Smart Prosecution Program
PDMP enhances the capacity of regulatory and law enforcement agencies to collect and analyze controlled substance prescription data. The program focuses on providing help for states that want to establish a prescription drug monitoring program. Resources are also available to states that wish to expand their existing programs. To learn more, visit www.bja.gov/PDMP.

• Smart Prosecution Program
The purpose of this program is to develop a body of knowledge about data-driven strategies—innovative, best practice, or evidenced-based—as they are implemented by prosecutors. To learn more, visit www.bja.gov/SMARTPROSECUTION.

Other related justice programs include: Second Chance Act Demonstration Program, Smart Defense (formerly Indigent Defense), and Smart Supervision Program and Encouraging Innovation: Field Programs.

The good news is that most of these programs have 2017 proposed increases in funding. Please keep in mind the current federal budget will continue after the November elections until September 30, 2017.

2017 Proposed Funding under Smart Suite
Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program: $24 million, up $9 million
Smart Prosecution Program: $5 million, up $2.5 million
Smart Policing Program: $20 million, up $15 million

The CRPPE provides your department information on practitioner–researcher partnerships, performance measures, logic models, program evaluation and other information to develop quality, quantity and equity of criminal justice and public safety services.

So, who is a research partner?
A research partner is someone who has received formal training in research and evaluation methods and has applied those skills in criminal justice settings. They tend to have advanced quantitative and qualitative skills as well as significant training in criminological theory. As experts in their fields, research partners tend to be well versed in relevant crime control and prevention literature and also tend to be aware of the state-of-practice in criminal justice. Research partners are most frequently found in university and college criminology, criminal justice, sociology, public policy, and urban affairs programs. Research partners can also be found in private research or consulting firms, research centers, and in state and local agencies.

And who is a crime analyst?
A crime analyst is someone who may (or may not) have received formal training in quantitative analysis techniques and statistical methods and applies those skills in support of operational organizations, most frequently police departments. In general, crime analysts have no training in criminological theory but are frequently deeply rooted in practice. A typical crime analyst supports his/her operational agency by mapping incidents, identifying “hot spots”, and developing descriptive crime reports. Crime analysts rarely analyze data from outside their employing agency. A crime analyst can be an excellent resource for Smart Suite task forces and for the research partner but may not have background or the organizational flexibility to serve in the research partner role.

For deeper information about what these two partners are and how to work with them, visit this page.

If you have questions about the Smart Suite Initiative, please contact the Policegrantshelp department at http://www.policegrantshelp.com/.

Additional Resources

2017 Proposed Budget Justice

Smart Suite

Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program

Smart Policing Initiative:

Violent Gang and Gun Crime Reduction Program

2017 Proposed Justice Grant Funding 

Prescription Drugs Monitoring Program

Smart Prosecution

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