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Less-lethal weapons and grants

These weapons are being used often in situations where the suspect's intentions are not clearly understood

One of the most difficult challenges facing police officers today is encountering an agitated, aggressive or violent suspect and tying to understand their intentions. Have they committed a crime? Are they fleeing a domestic incident? Do they intend to do harm to themselves or others? Are they under the influence of drugs? Less-lethal weapons are increasingly being deployed for these situations.

Funding is always an issue for the purchase of new technology and tools. In order to move into the use of less-lethal weapons and garner grant funding the department needs to step back and do some strategic planning and thinking before developing a grant application for less-lethal weapons. As with all technology and tools you have to create a plan to bring new items into the department. The grant funder will want you to consider the following:

Needs Assessment
What conditions in your community warrants the purchase and implementation of a less-lethal weapon option? Is there an increase in encounters with agitated, aggressive citizens? Has there been an increase in crime? Has a significant event occurred in which less-lethal would have been a good tactical option? Gather the data for the past three years which you believe supports your need to less-lethal weapons options. Develop a strong case statement which demonstrates the need for this new option within your continuum of policing options.

Review and asses all less-lethal weapons and options
The field of less-lethal options grows annually. Your department needs to decide which types of options would work best within your department to meet the needs of the community you serve. The options include; kinetic energy, barriers and entanglements, electric, acoustic, directed energy, chemical, biological, combined technologies and many differing delivery systems. Within those categories are many options. Compare and think through a sound strategy for adding these tools to your policing options. Create a justification statement about why you selected the options you are requesting within your grant application. Include a cost analysis of developing and implementing this new policing strategy and relate that cost to the crime and incident data to how it will impact your crime and incident data.

Develop policies and protocols
Prior to submitting your grant application, develop the necessary protocols and policies related to adding these new tools and technologies to your policing strategies. There are many resources available for you to use as guidelines for your policy and protocol development. Both www.policeforum.org and www.less-lethal.org offer sample policies, articles and current research on less-lethal weapons.

Address training needs
Once you have shown the need for this new resource, reviewed and strategically selected the type of less-lethal weapon or technology for your department, developed the policies and protocols, then you need to develop a training program and training protocols for getting your officers ready to deploy these weapons. Research the vendor(s) you have selected for their training options. Develop the training syllabus for the internal training needed to address the new policies and protocols.

Develop a Budget and Address Sustainability
Once all of the above is prepared, the rest of the application is easy! Develop a budget which addresses the equipment or technology purchase and cost of training. A complete budget analysis would also include the cost of developing the new policies and protocols and implementing the new strategy. The funder will probably only want the cost of the equipment and training but the additional budget information will help you forecast the cost of sustainability of the less-lethal weapon program. For sustainability, you must consider the cost of maintaining, servicing, replenishing as well as any continual training for these weapons. Most funders will require that you soundly address sustainability within your grant application.

Indentify the Funding Source
The most likely resource for funding less lethal weapons in within the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG). Other possibilities to consider would be grant programs which focus on reducing crime such as Project Safe Neighborhoods, Gang grants, COPS grants. Some corporate and private foundations may also support the purchase of less-lethal if they can see a benefit to protecting the community and its citizens from harm. Those foundations may be researched through you local cooperating collection library of the Foundation Center.

With the completion of the steps above you will be ready to create a strong, competitive grant request for any funder. Please contact us if you have any further questions.

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