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April 10, 2006
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Focus on funding

"You can't win if you don't play"; remember that popular marketing phrase for the money lottery games? Well, the same challenge applies to winning in the "lottery" of grants. If you don't play by making well thought-out and thorough applications, then you can't win. You already realize that no one is out there just trying to throw money at you, but that there IS money being given to departments all around you.

The key is that you have to ask for it, and you have to make your appeal in a more effective way than the other guys - the departments or agencies that may be applying for the same grant - because most of the grant programs out there are competitive in nature. Grantees are selected based on grantor perception of need and whether the prospect is deserving based on program criteria. If your needs and your representation of why you deserve the money or equipment are more compelling than the next guy, you win!

So again, the irony is that there IS money out there. Grant authorities WANT you to have this money. Many of these programs - especially those funded via federal budget - live or die on their success in getting money and equipment into the hands of the responders for whom these assets are intended. For 2006 alone, monies or assets available to law enforcement through federal grant programs include the following:

  • Law Enforcement Grant Program - $400M
  • Port Security - $150M
  • State Homeland Security Grants - $1 Billion
  • Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance - $50M
  • Urban Area Security Initiative - $850M
There are a number of basic but very important actions you can take to be successful in pursuit of any of these grants. The key here is that all of these - and most other grants, public or private, are looking for the same information. The format may vary, but the essentials are the same.

Know Your Department and Community. Have a firm grasp of the demographics; size of the department, number of paid officers, significant crime statistics, area patrolled (square miles), and general population are the basics.

Clearly Define Your Need. Be specific. What will you do with the money or equipment? What will you buy? How will you use it? How will this better arm you to solve the significant challenges within your department and community? A very important theme here is interoperability. More and more grants are emphasizing the requirement that an applying department be able to demonstrate how the acquired equipment will support interoperability with other responder entities. Many Bullard thermal imagers (TacSight, TI Commander, TI, TIx, T3, T3MAX) may be equipped with wireless transmitters and receivers that operate on the same frequency, so that the same visual information can be shared across departments to ensure communication for command and control.

Respond to the Grant Objectives. While most grants ask for the same general information, each one usually has a very distinct stated objective, whether it is to protect seaports, protect large urban areas, or respond to terrorist actions. Be sure to acknowledge that objective in your narrative. To win consideration, your defined need must line up with the grant objectives.

Here's a final tip: assemble all of this information NOW. Don't wait for that time-pressured application to hit your desk. Do the research and build the framework of common information early, and you will have it "at your fingertips" when that opportunity surfaces. Then "all" you will have to do is tailor it to the grant specific criteria. That way, you will have more time to go grant hunting, and you'll spend less time sweating the details!

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