By Brian Harris
Recently, I was sitting at an airport waiting for a flight when an advertisement over an electronic billboard caught my eye. The picture on the ad was a silhouette of a police officers’ face with a video camera extending out from the eyes. The caption read “Police see emergencies before they emerge” and touted being able to assist police agencies reduce crime by 25%.
I first thought “Wow, that’s great stuff” and, since I apparently had some time on my hands, immediately looked up the website. No, I’m not here to today to talk about how effective advertising is or what a sucker I am to a good tagline, but rather to illustrate the importance of looking into our future now to fill needs we know we will have.
Chances are, you can name off a couple of projects that need to happen in 2012, and maybe even a few more that would be nice to have. So let’s look into the crystal ball and see what lies down the road. Congress just passed the 2012 “Minibus” Appropriations Package so we now know what kind of funding is coming down the pike. Let’s take a look at what we’re up against for next year.
The bad news is that, overall, funding levels for Criminal Justice Grant Programs are down by $570,000,000 from last year and Homeland Security First Responder Grants are down $1,000,000,000. The good news is that there is still $4,600,000,000 in funds available for state and local law enforcement between the two programs. Additionally, $350,000,000 is available in Emergency Management Performance Grants. I’m not even going to get into what the firefighters got but you might want to make friends with them.
Basically, this means that grants will become more competitive as funds are going to be stretched further for maximum impact. The key to your success this year will be to develop projects that will involve, yes I’m going to say it, collaboration and cooperation as much as possible. Planning now and prioritizing your projects will put you in a good position once these funding opportunities open up.
The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG)
At just over $357,000,000 for fiscal year 2012, this is the largest funding source for law enforcement activities and traditionally funds a broad range of projects. Under JAG, agencies have funded equipment, personnel and programs that expand the level of services provided within a community. JAG will come available in at least one of two ways, but not necessarily in this order.
First, the Bureau of Justice Assistance will publish their annual local solicitation list. This list identifies communities eligible for funding under the JAG formula, which is mandated by congress. This formula takes into account your state’s share of the national population as well as your state’s share of the country’s part I violent crimes. Once this formula has been calculated, 60% of your states funds will go to the state itself and 40% will go to local eligible agencies, which will be posted in the local solicitation list sometime in late May or early June.
Second, your state will take a portion of that 60% and make a state level JAG grant available to local agencies through a competitive application process. These funds are called pass-through funds because they are passed down from the federal level and distributed by the state. Every state differs on how they distribute these funds so you need to identify your State Administering Agency (SAA) and contact them to find out more information.
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Grants
COPS is an extension of the Department of Justice that focuses their funding on projects that promote the community-police partnership across the country. Traditionally, COPS has funded the COPS Hiring Program grants and the Community Policing Development Program, as well as a few others. For fiscal year 2012, COPS will be funded at just over $10,000,000.
Bullet-Proof Vest Partnership
This is the grant initiative that provides 50% of funding for law enforcement agencies to purchase body armor for their officers. Beginning with fiscal year 2011, there is a mandatory wear policy requirement in order to receive funds. You can get a copy of the IACP’s model policy by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The COPS office has previously allowed for a hardship waiver to cover the 50% match requirement but it is unknown if that will be offered for FY 2012. This program was funded for FY 2012 at $24,900,000 and, if you received an award for FY 2011, the funds are now available for use.
For FY 2012, Homeland Security grants for state and local programs were funded at $1,000,000,000. This amount includes a wide range of activities, for the most part, is spent at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security. Activities under this program include the State Homeland Security Program, the Urban Area Security Initiative, the Metropolitan Medical Response System, the Public Transportation Security Assistance and Railroad Security Assistance programs, Port Security grants and the Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program. $107,000,000 of these funds will be used for training of state, local and tribal first responders and no more than 5% of a grant award can be used for the administration of the grant program. Individual allocations for each of these programs should be released after the first of the year and some funding will become available in January.
So, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the ugly rumors of grants going away for next year have been put to rest and it will truly be a happy holiday season. If you would like to feel smarter, you can read the full funding report for Criminal Justice and Homeland Security for yourself. Be sure to keep an eye on the Appropriations Committee website throughout the year for funding updates.
Enjoy the holiday season and get some much needed rest.