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7 strategies to find funding for officer training

Funders want to see a well thought out plan of action, a community assessment for determining needs for training, as well as full maximization of existing facilities

In a difficult economic environment, officer training may be deemed as an extra in the department’s budget. Grant funding becomes a critical means to fulfill training needs. To obtain grant funding for training you and your department must be prepared to meet the rigorous review and critical eye of the agency or organization providing the funds.

When the funding for training falls under discretionary funding, it is typically evaluated through the peer review process. Having served as a peer reviewer on federal grant review teams, has offered me insight into the required process of developing a competitive grant application for training purposes. The internal and peer review team are required by the funder to look for organizational capacity and demonstrated need, as well as sound research, planning and implementation training phases are required in order to meet the rigors of inspection of the peer review team for training grants.

As with any grant, you must submit a competitive application. To get funding for training that means a clear demonstration of training needs, not wants — serious organizational planning and not just chasing the money, a community wide-view and established partnerships.

Many officers have sent me draft grants for training which create multimillion dollar training facilities and training programs and expect the funder to say, “that’s OK” and get them the money. Many of these grants attempt to get funding to build something at home rather than utilize what already exists. In working with one police department which wanted to build new facility, they discovered that they could more than triple their training budget by doing their home work, utilizing existing training facilities, existing opportunities and programs. The cost of the draft grant was in the millions and the cost of needed training was reduced to under $500,000 by doing a cost benefit analysis. The use of existing programs and facilities was much less expensive. Grant money was then offered to them to go to training as they were able to justify their training needs once their homework was completed.

Funders want to see a well thought out plan of action, a community assessment for determining needs for training as well as full maximization of existing facilities. They also require you to complete a cost/benefit analysis of the existing and proposed training opportunities. So where do you begin to get funded for training programs?

Begin with needs not wants. The first thing the funder wants to know is what training does your department need ...and why. In order to answer that question, an organizational assessment is needed to provide data and evidence that the training need is real. An assessment can be completed internally using existing staff or externally by a consultant. The following list of questions and considerations which will assist you in providing justification to the funder for your grant request. The funder will want you to demonstrate that you have exhausted all local and regional training opportunities and looked to existing national facilities to meet your needs. Then, if that is not sufficient you will be able to specifically target the appropriate training program need, justify it and develop that within the targeted grant.

But rest assured it is not too difficult for you to do it yourself. Start by considering your needs for the next three to five years. Let’s discuss the process needed to get a funder to consider giving you money for training.

1. Take A Serious look at your internal training. Find out what training has been managed internally such as orientation, firearms, etc. How often is your internal training completed? Annually, monthly, weekly? How many officers are trained? Who does this training a staff member or outside consultant who comes in house to provide the training? What internal training will need to be provided over the next three years? How many officers? What type of training is needed to meet the needs of the community you serve? What is the cost per officer of providing your internal training? What are the outcomes of your internal training? Have you reduced risk, decrease crime is a specific area, increased new policing strategies, etc? Have you automated your training administration for documenting the training within your department? Do you have an evaluation process in place to bench mark your training practices and outcomes?

2. What facilities do you need? Does your existing space provide the classroom resources to fulfill your training needs for the next three to five years? Do you have technology to for providing that training such as a PowerPoint Projector, video capabilities and if needed internet access? Do you have training facilities which can be shared with community partners? What facilities do your partners have which you can access to better meet your internal training needs? What is the cost of these facilities per officer?

3. Review external training. What types of training did officers attend outside of your department? Include all training, especially any virtual training, grant writing, professional development, specialized training, technical training, high risk entry training, intelligence gathering, etc? How many officers received trained in which areas? What are the projected external training needs of your department for the next three to five years? What are the outcomes of the external training? Reduced risk, increased capacity, new policing strategies implemented, etc?

4. Develop a list of external training partners available to your department. How many outside facilities does your department have available to meet the needs of your officers? Network with other law enforcement agencies to locate new opportunities? Where are they located? What is the cost of the training per officer? What is the cost of travel, meals and expenses per officer? What is available at the regional, state or national level? Facilities and organizations such as USDOJ, SAMHSA, FLETC, ILEETA IACP, Northeast Counterdrug Training Center, Community Colleges, etc. You might also what to utilize the professional development opportunities provide through the LEO state and national associations, state agencies and vendors.

5. Analyze your community needs for law enforcement. Gather and evaluate your crime data from your UCRs. What types of changes have occurred within the community which requires new strategies in law enforcement approaches? Determine the cost of the training needed to meet these new demands in the community.

6. Optimize your resources. Do your homework. Research and explore new ways to maximize available training and facilities available to your department. Increase the training opportunities in key areas for your community needs in specialized training, homeland security training, drug demand reduction training, etc. Explore your partnerships. Are there areas within the community which require your response and support but you have not fully developed partners which will enable you to expand your training opportunities? For example, your data demonstrates an increase in gang activity within the community and in the schools. Both of these areas have grant funding addressing those needs and which can provide funding for specialized training within these areas.

7. As a last resort, work to develop new training opportunities. In order to do this, you must first demonstrate your organizational capacity to develop the training. Do your homework to determine the current trends in the type of training you want to develop. Develop an overall approach for the development and delivery of the training? How will this training impact your officer and department capacity to meet the needs of your community? What methods and approaches will you utilize to develop and deliver the training? How many people will you train? How often? What are the goals and objectives of this training? Will there be prerequisite and skills needed to enter this course? What is the total cost of the training and the cost per student? What tools and methods will you use to evaluate the effectiveness of the training? What technical expertise is required by the trainer/facilitator? What is the overall cost of the training program for the design and development phase, the analysis phase and the implementation of the training?

Many grants contain a training component. Once you have completed a training assessment you can then review the grant opportunities to see where your needs fit into the existing grant programs. In my grant writing classes, the students are required to review the entire past year of grants posted for law enforcement at both the state and federal levels to gain an understanding of what types of training, programs and grants are being offered. Your crime and community analysis as well as the training assessment will provide you with the insight you need to see where these grants fit to meet your training needs. But until this homework is done you will not be able to understand how to find money to support your needs and fill your budget with the resources for training.

You can begin reviewing some of the federal opportunities for law enforcement by clicking here. You might also want to review the OJP website to get you started on your search for training opportunities through the US Department of Justice. The COPS office is currently administering a study to assess the rural law enforcement training needs. The study will support the Rural Policing Institute, FLETC, US department of Homeland Security in determining how to most effectively allocate federal resources for training law enforcement professionals. The results of this study are to be published in the fall of 2010. For more information click here. These are just a few of the resources available to law enforcement but is the best place to start.

Please feel free to email me at Denise.Schlegel@policegrantshelp.com with any questions.
Best wishes in developing your resources for training.

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