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Finding the Money for Communications Interoperability Purchases


The most obvious place for grant funding for law enforcement is the Byrne/JAG grant program — as long as the application can be tied to crime fighting — and on the Fire/EMS side the clearest path to funding is the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program. Before we explore some of the more "creative" alternatives, it’s a worthwhile exercise to briefly address the present status of these two major avenues for public safety grant funding.

Law enforcement agencies seeking to support their missions of protecting their communities have turned to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program as the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions.

Named for NYPD Officer Edward R. Byrne, who was killed in the line of duty in the small hours of February 26, 1988, it has been more than two decades since state and local law enforcement first began applying for the program. After the deadline for this funding was extended an additional 30 days — presumably to allow agencies a reasonable time period to put together their proposals — the opportunity to present applications for 2010 Byrne/JAG grants passed in late June 2009. The principal implication of this is that agencies should now begin to plan for the application process that begins anew next year. Administrators should begin their needs assessment as well as selecting grant writers.

Instituted about a decade ago and now one of the principal sources of funding for technology infrastructure and equipment for the fire service, AFG program funding came under fire in the Obama Administration's proposed 2010 budget, which suggested reducing funds for AFG by 70 percent, from $565 million to $170 million.

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