Leadership View: Public Grants Provide Relief For Overtaxed Agency Budgets
Authored by Chip Cooper, Chief Financial Officer
My last series post outlined the challenges law enforcement communities face in doing more while on a budget and how to make every dollar count. Investments in technology allow agencies to work more efficiently, affording longer-term relief to resource and financial constraints. What if an agency is already past the precipice where budgets are exhausted by ballooning staffing and administrative needs? Investments in technology are then but a luxury, seemingly out of reach. You need technology to help stretch your budget dollars further, but you need budget availability to procure the technology. This is the classic chicken and egg paradox.
“You Can’t Fight City Hall” When It Comes to Budgets
Fortunately, law enforcement agencies have options beyond their annual operating budgets regarding special funding needs. I am talking about grants. Public Grants exist in every size and category, with one singular goal in mind – “get out ahead of the most urgent and demanding challenges facing your departments and your communities rather than waiting for budget allocations that may never come.”
Last year State, Federal and private programs pledged more than $5.2 billion toward public safety initiatives. The largest contributor, by far, was the Department of Justice, which contributed over $3.7 million in funding opportunities to support law enforcement and public safety activities in state, local, and tribal jurisdictions. These dollars went towards assisting victims of crime, providing training and technical assistance, conducting research, and implementing programs that improve the criminal, civil, and juvenile justice systems. Through their Community Oriented Policing (COPS), Office of Violence Against Women (OVW), and Office of Justice Programs (OJP) divisions, the DOJ was able to provide much-needed special funding for a variety of initiatives. These initiatives included funding for training, officers, equipment – and, yes, technology. Increased urgency in addressing drug abuse, mental health, domestic violence, and gun crime concerns in our communities has given way to the largest number of grants in decades. One of the most extensive grant programs to date is the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program which has funded over $7.0 billion in programs since its inception in 2005.
Even still, a recent Georgetown Law Journal essay revealed that less than 10% of local law enforcement agencies take advantage of federal funding opportunities such as these. Indeed, Federal Grants represent one of the most significant untapped resources for state and local law enforcement agencies.
Why Do Available Funds Go Unused?
Reasons that federal funding is less prevalent across local agencies include a lack of awareness or a lack of resources to manage the grant application process. The process can also be highly competitive, with larger agencies having dedicated and experienced resources on staff to lead these efforts. Safety technology providers such as CivicEye are increasingly helping to bridge this gap by providing informational resources (such as this article) and, in some cases, even grant writing assistance. There are also a variety of non-profit and for-profit organizations dedicated to Grant research and application services. While CivicEye does not specifically endorse any particular providers, a simple Google search will yield dozens of options to research. Yet another reason agencies do not apply or do not qualify for grants is a lack of empirical data supporting need or non-compliance with federal reporting requirements. CivicEye solutions provide the mechanism to record, report, and analyze incidents across agencies and are fully NIBRS reporting compliant. CivicRMS seamlessly integrates with other agency solutions and is a cloud-based subscription service limiting the need for costly software implementations or unnecessarily changing out systems already working well for agencies. Not only are CivicEye solutions cost-efficient, but they also enable the workforce efficiency to do more with less and produce the data reporting requirements to secure more federal grant funding.
Solutions must include tools and ideas, approaches, and advocacy in how we operate differently in our changing environment. We at CivicEye are passionate about the communities we support and the solutions we bring to market – making our officers and communities safer. We are more than just a software company; we are a solutions provider for the Public Safety sector.
Want information on where you can apply for grants? Click here.