How to begin laying the foundation for a successful grant-application process
Whether your agency has an urgent need to replace obsolete scene documentation and mapping technology or you simply know you should take your capabilities to the next level, the good news is that plenty of grant funding is available for 3D laser scanning technology. Increasingly, federal, state and private grant makers are recognizing that 3D reality capture not only ensures objective and comprehensive documentation of crime, collision and officer-involved incidents but also provides full disclosure for the communities you serve.
Since 2009, the Leica Geosystems Grant Assistance Program through PoliceGrantsHelp.com (PGH) has helped law enforcement agencies receive millions of dollars in funding for 3D laser scanning solutions. Agencies going through this program receive customized grant research, unlimited guidance from senior grant consultants, application assistance and narrative reviews—all at no cost. “Right now, we are tracking 156 different grant programs that fund forensic 3D laser scanners to the tune of $3.1 billion in funding,” says Sarah Wilson, vice president for PGH, a division of PoliceOne.com.
Grants are all about forward planning, and there’s no better time than now to begin. Once you’ve submitted your online grant assistance request form, PGH’s law enforcement grant experts will coach you through the entire process to make sure your agency’s application stands out from the competition. “Right now is a great time of year to contact us because a lot of the federal police grants will be opening up from now until about June,” Wilson says. “So the sooner we can get started, the better.”
Wilson says you can start laying the foundation for a successful grant-application process with the following internal steps.
No. 1: Identify Internal Procedures for Grant Applications
Identify your agency’s internal permissions for grant applications. Do you have access to a grant manager either in your department or at the city level? “Often, police departments need to get approval from a local city governments—could be the mayor, the city council or their chief—so they need to find out what that process is,” Wilson says.
If there is no internal grant structure in place, which is often the case in suburban and rural areas, agencies may apply by committee. “It’s the person that raises their hand or really champions a project that ends up being the one that has to write the grant and submit the grant,” Wilson says. “And so we’re right there with them every step of the way making sure that they’re following directions and doing things appropriately.”
No. 2: Develop an Internal Structure for Post-Award Management
You should also have an internal structure in place to oversee award monies. “There’s a lot of responsibility when it comes to the application submission as well as acceptance of these awards because they are legally binding contracts,” Wilson says. While the PGH team provides quarterly check-ins to help keep agencies on track, it’s the sole responsibility of the agency to submit reports according to the terms of the grant maker and demonstrate that the money is being used as the grant intended. “Make sure that there is a dedicated person to manage the money and submit reports after the funding is received,” Wilson says.
No. 3: Begin Budgeting for Supplemental Funds
Grants fund a significant portion of a project’s budget, but they don’t typically fund 100 percent. “Most require some sort of cash or in-kind match for the total project costs,” Wilson says. Additionally, even though grants are a good way to get programs up and running, they’re not permanent solutions. “Departments need to figure out [ahead of time] how they are going to continue to maintain that project, that program, that equipment when the grant ends,” Wilson says.
Begin early to identify additional sources of funds. For example, by lowering operating costs, your department may be able to free up monies already available within your current operating budget. Guarantees, donations, contributions and asset-forfeiture funds may be options, as well. “We do a lot of that education on the front end so that agencies aren’t surprised that they’re responsible to have some skin in the game when they get that funding.”
No. 4: Complete Federal Pre-Registration Requirements
Determine whether your agency has met federal grant pre-registration requirements. If not, you’ll need to make sure it’s done before grant programs open for application. Agencies must have an active System for Award Management (SAM) account in order to do business with the federal government and a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number, which tracks how federal money is allocated. While pre-registration is free, these accounts can take up to eight weeks to set up. “If they wait until the last minute, they may not get their pre-registration done in time to apply for certain grants,” Wilson says. “We can get them started with pre-registration to get them in good shape to be ready to apply for grants as soon as those grant programs open.”
No. 5: Have Backup Plans
With a typical grant cycle ranging from nine to 12 months, it’s advisable to have backup plans. For example, if your agency’s grant manager is transferred, promoted or unable to continue the application, you may elect to have PoliceGrantsHelp.com undertake the entire grant-writing process at 50-percent off market fees.
Technology leases are another financing option that makes good business sense for public safety agencies. Leica Geosystems’ strong partnership with GreatAmerica Financial Services gives agencies access to the best financing rates on leases with flexible terms. A lease can deliver the latest technology in a matter of weeks but also provides built-in obsolescence protection that will keep you on the cutting-edge for years to come.
No. 6: Start Now
While the grant application process takes time and dedication, grants can be a viable way to bring your agency’s forensic mapping capabilities into the 21st century. The good news is that plenty of grant funding is available for 3D laser scanning solutions and you don’t have to go it alone. In 2018, the Leica Geosystems Grant Assistance program helped public safety agencies receive approximately half a million dollars in funds. “My biggest advice to any agency considering a grant is to really plan ahead and get in touch with our team as soon as possible,” Wilson says. “And we’ll go from there.”
To learn more about laser scanning and other digital scene documentation and mapping solutions so you can develop the best approach for your agency, please contact us.