Last post, we discussed how there are competitive grants that can supplement your departmental budget, allowing you to purchase tactical helmets and other protective gear that you might not otherwise have funding for. We also went over the application process and what the organizations giving out these grants are looking for in the applications.
We know what you’re thinking- I can prevent head injuries by purchasing tactical helmets with free money, and all I have to do is ask for it? Sounds great, but where do I find these grants? Today, we’re going to go into more detail about a few different sources for grants. Also, we apologize in advance for all of the acronyms, though we know our readers in the military are all too used to them.
Video guide to the types of grants available for law enforcement. Video credit: WatchGuard Video
Department of Justice Grants
The Department of Justice has a variety of grants available to help state and local law enforcement purchase tactical gear such as ballistic helmets. Its subsidiary agency the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has a program called the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program explicitly designed for this purpose.
Each year, the JAG program awards funding in direct grants to states based off of the population of the state and the state’s levels of violent crime. The BJA also uses these criteria to determine which local governments qualify for direct grants, and lists them in the JAG grant. Then, 60% of the funding is given to the state and 40% is given to qualifying local governments. In addition, the state is required to “pass through” a percentage of its grant down to local governments. This means that even if your local government is not named as a direct grant recipient, you might still qualify to receive funding through the state’s grant.
If your local government does qualify for a direct grant, you should talk to the grant administrator about setting aside a portion of the funds to cover your protective gear needs. If not, you should still reach out about reserving a portion of the “pass through” funds, or about the possibility of securing funding in the next year. Every state has a State Administering Agency (SAA) that is charged with administering grant money. The points of contact for your JAG SAA can be found here.
It can pay off to get to know the people in your SAA, and stay in contact. They are the folks who are most familiar with the ins and outs of the program, and so they can be of the most help to people trying to learn about what the JAG program can do for them. Stay in touch with them as well- the criteria, allocation of, and requirements for implementing grants change every year. They will be the best resource on what these changes mean for your department.
Officials in Suffolk County, New York, unveil new tactical helmets and other equipment purchased with grant money. Photo credit: Rachel Siford
Department of Homeland Security Grants
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) primarily distributes grants that are intended to enable state and local governments to prevent and adequately respond to terrorist attacks. DHS identifies its mission areas as Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery. There is room in its grants for protective gear expenditures that fall under these mission areas. In 2018, DHS distributed over $1 billion in preparedness grants. This includes $402 million to implement the National Preparedness Plan nationwide, $580 million in preparedness funding to 29 urban areas identified as being at a high risk for terror attacks, and $85 million to promote federal and local cooperation in border security. As with JAG grants, these have “pass through” requirements, which means some of that funding can go to your department’s needs. Read more about DHS grant funding in 2018 here.
DHS is a very broad federal department agency and some of its grants are distributed by the agencies under its purview, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
By law, FEMA distributes 25% of the grants listed above (except those involving border security) as Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Activity (LETPA) grants. LETPA grants are exactly the kind of grant that you need to be applying for, because they are expressly designed to equip state and local departments. Check out this comprehensive list of LETPA grants awarded to each state in 2014, including the grants awarded to local governments and departments. The items that LETPA grants cover are varied and wide-ranging, and probably include some items on your tactical gear wish list.
TSA also offers a wide variety of grants related to protecting the country’s transit systems from a terror attack. If your organization deals with transit systems such as freight and passenger rail, busing, trucking, ferries, or anything moving people or goods from one place to another, you may want to check out their grant programs to see if you qualify for funding.
Also as with the JAG program, DHS grants are administered by an SAA, and you should definitely talk to the folks at your SAA to figure out how you can obtain some of this funding to purchase tactical gear. The list of points of contact for DHS SAAs can be found here.
Other miscellaneous grants that don’t fall under this umbrella can be found at grants.gov.
All the Small Grants
Granite Shoals, Texas police officer pose with ballistic helmets purchased with a grant from the Burnet County Friends of NRA. Photo Credit: DailyTrib.com
Clearly, federal government grants can go a long way toward funding your tactical gear needs, but they are not the only source of funding available. Other levels of government can also distribute helpful grants, as can private companies and other organizations. If you know of private organizations in your area offering grants you should definitely be in contact with them, as they are more likely to want to give their funds to a local department and the application process might not be as competitive as some of the federal grants.
However, if you don’t know where to look, non-federal grants can be hard to find. State and local grants might not be well-advertised to those they are meant to help. Some companies such as Firehouse Subs are well-known for their first responder grants, but others are certainly flying under the radar. It can be helpful to look for services that seek out these grants and assemble them into databases for you to access.
One company that does this is PoliceGrantsHelp.com. They offer a large database of private, federal, state and local grants geared toward law enforcement, and sortable by state, keyword, category and source of funding. They do require that you register to access their database, but registration and access is free. The company is sponsored by law-enforcement focused organizations, and charges for grant-writing services.
They provide a valuable service by organizing grants from all of these different sources into one easily accessible database. As mentioned in our previous post, you may want to employ the services of a professional grant writer anyway. Do any of you have experience with this company’s database, or others like it? Have you hired a grant writer, and how did it go? Let us know what your experiences with the grant process have been.