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How grant funding benefited police in 2009

...and how to hold on to your grant money

Editor's Note: Throughout December, we'll be featuring commentary and analysis that looks back at the past year and the past decade, or looks ahead to what's on the horizon for law enforcement. We've already presented columns from Fred BurtonLarry Jetmore, Terry Dwyer, Brian Willis, Dan MarcouDick Fairburn, Ken Wallentine, and Eddie Reyes — if you've missed those, be sure to check them out, and watch out for more from some of our top columnists in coming days.

By Melissa Winesburg, PoliceOne Contributor

Significant funding was provided to law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies in 2009, most of which was made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The focus of ARRA funding was on hiring with the goal that agencies receiving funds expedite their processes to fill jobs as quickly as possible.

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services funded 4,699 new law enforcement positions in 1,046 law enforcement agencies across 23 states. The purpose of these funds was for new hires or to sustain current positions. Under the Edward Byrne Memorial Grant Program $10M was dedicated for law enforcement technology research and development across 20 agencies. The National Sheriff’s Association received a $288,522 dollar grant for research and development. The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) also received $549K for Research and Evaluation of Recovery Act State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance.

Southern border funds to combat drug activity were issued to 15 agencies in the amount of $24M. This funding was directed to law enforcement, probation and district attorney’s offices. The largest awards were to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for $4.9M each. Another 3.7M was awarded for facilitating information sharing, collaboration and problem solving for narcotics activity along the southern border. Of this funding, $2.9M was awarded to the Arizona Department of Attorney General and $800K to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office in California.

The other major source of funding for law enforcement in 2009 was through the Recovery Act Edward Byrne Memorial Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program. Designated local law enforcement agencies received formula-based funds under this program directly from the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

There were approximately 3,200 awards totaling $748M distributed under this program. Local law enforcement agencies deemed eligible were required to submit a spending plan prior to receipt of funds. Highlights for law enforcement funding received under the Edward Byrne Competitive Program include $6.1M directed toward comprehensive community approaches to prevent crime, $8M for enhancing forensic crime scene investigations, $22M for hiring of civilian staff in law enforcement and public safety-related agencies, $507K to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) for national training and technical assistance, and $357K for problem solving courts. While there were many other programs funded under the Edward Byrne Competitive Program the above highlighted projects are specific to awards received by law enforcement agencies.

Finally, the Rural Law Enforcement Assistance Program $28M in funds was awarded for rural justice information sharing to 69 agencies. Approximately 86 agencies received $54M in funds for combating rural crime and $7.8M in funding was awarded for training and technical assistance to five agencies including SEARCH Group, Inc (Calif.), Institute for Intergovernmental Research (Fla.), University of Tennessee Knoxville (Tenn.), and Strategic Applications for Society, LLC (Va.), and International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Rural law enforcement agencies should contact these organizations to find out how the funds received by these agencies may benefit them. Finally, while funds were distributed for improving rural law enforcement investigations to approximately 35 agencies in the amount of $14M.

With these new funds come increased reporting requirements. The Bureau of Justice Assistance has expanded information required for semi-annual reporting under the Grants Management Performance Metrics Section. Expanded questions focus on project accomplishments, progress toward spending funds, and review of planned progress for the next reporting period. Agencies may also find themselves submitting budget adjustments more often. Guidance from states has been that any modifications to a budget, even slight, should be discussed with your grants program manager to determine whether adjustments are necessary. There are also requirements for reporting to the Federal Reporting Center that focus on the number of new positions hired — which should be expected given that the purpose of ARRA funding is for hiring. These new reporting requirements are going to oblige law enforcement to tighten project management and record keeping efforts to ensure that they maintain compliance with their grants.

Law enforcement should begin to plan for 2010 applications as they are starting to be announced on the Bureau of Justice Assistance website at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/funding/current-opp.html.

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