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How to get grant funding for police body-worn cameras

Several federal grants allow for the cost of body-worn cameras

Body-worn cameras: they are small, powerful, silent partners and their use is growing all over the country. The technology for this small but vital tool for law enforcement has become a favorite in many police departments.

While departments have been using the in-car cameras for years, in the current economy their cost has become a viable tool to maintain the crime-fighting effectiveness of video for a much smaller price. These small cameras range from $70 to $900, which is a much more palatable cost for cash-strapped departments.

According to the fall 2011 issue of TechBeat published by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, proponents of body-worn video cameras say they can increase transparency of operations and reduce litigation while resulting in cost-savings for departments driven by financial concerns.

Officer-worn cameras provide advantages similar to in-car cameras, including protecting officers from false accusations, collecting evidence for trial and improving community relations. The difference is the body-worn cameras can go wherever the patrol officer goes: when he steps away from the patrol car, such as into an apartment building or a house, they record what the officer sees and hears. Detectives can use the cameras for field interviews and victim interviews.

There are many grant opportunities which will allow the cost of these cameras. For federal and state grants the use and purchase of body-worn cameras must be built into a program or policing strategy, which aligns with the purpose of the grant you have selected to submit a request for funding. As the police department is developing its annual strategic plan, the use of these cameras - just as any other equipment or technology purchase - must be built into the strategic plan. Policies and procedures must be reviewed or newly developed to address the use of the camera as well. The policies and procedure considerations might include when to turn the camera on an off for use in policing strategies such as a traffic stop or an interview.

Building a Case Statement for Funding will help the department prepare for a grant application. Once you have worked through the process of product selection, justification and funder identification you can use the case statement to answer funder’s request for proposal. For help in building a case statement, see this article.

A search for body-worn cameras through the Responders Knowledge Base lists all of the following federal grants in which the purchase of body-worn cameras is allowable. You must keep in mind that these federal grants are not solely for equipment purchases. Each grant program is dedicated to different purposes. Each grant project and the policing strategy required by the grant, allows the use and purchase of these cameras. A careful review of the grant program and the grant solicitation is required to determine your eligibility, program requirements and costs associated with the program.

The following federal grant are listed as allowing the cost of body-worn cameras:

Bureau of Justice Assistance
Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program

Department of Homeland Security
Driver’s License Security Grant Program (DLSGP) 
Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) 
Emergency Operations Center (EOC) 
Freight Rail Security Grant Program (FRSGP) 
Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) 
State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) 
Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) 
Operation Stonegarden (OPSG) 
Metropolitan Medical Response Grants (MMRS) 

Citizen Corps Program
Intercity Bus Security Grant Program (IBSGP) 
Intercity Passenger Rail Security Grant Program (IPR) 
Non-Profit Security Grant Program (NSGP) 
National Special Security Event (NSSE) Grant
Port Security Grant Program (PSGP)
Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program (RCPGP) 
Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP) 
Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program (THSGP)

State grants, which mirror the federal grants, are also a good place to research funding. Contact your State Administering Agency for your state strategic plan and available state resources for these cameras. Make sure you ask about any unallocated monies. Occasionally at the end of third quarter of the state fiscal year there may be some grant funded that has not been allocated, and this is a good opportunity to discuss your needs using your prepared case statement for funding. At PoliceGrantsHelp you can search for state grant announcements.

Private Foundations are good source of funding for these cameras. The Foundation Directory can lead you to which of the foundations would be interested in assisting law enforcement. To locate the nearest cooperating collection library for free access click here.

Another good source for researching private foundation is the GrantStation.

Your local community of businesses, civic associations, state associations and corporations may be willing to assist the local police department with the camera purchase as well. This process only requires the development of your case statement for funding and a cover letter to a local business, chamber of commerce, civic association, etc. It is amazing at the local resources available if you only ask! Your local Walmart may be willing to contribute funding. To make an inquiry, go to the Walmart within your jurisdiction with your case statement and ask to speak with the manager. Discuss your need with the manager and ask for an application for their funding. They provide as much as $5000 for needs in the community. Businesses need a safe community to have a profitable business!

We hope this gives you some new ideas for obtaining body-worn cameras. Email PoliceGrantsHelp to request assistance with your grant process. Best wishes with your grant endeavors.

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