Monday, January 2, 2012

How To Get Grant Money

Most police and fire departments want to add various technologies to their departments.  These technologies range anywhere from automatic license plate scanners to Panasonic Toughbook computers to specialized computer software or even to new vehicles.  However, these much sought after items can come with a pretty expensive price tag...particularly for departments that are looking to outfit an entire fleet with the same equipment.  This is where grant money is very beneficial, however, some people find the task of writing a grant very daunting.

Unfortunately, the people who make decisions regarding technology purchases (such as town councils) might not be involved in their use, and therefore, they may not understand how important it is.  They might not understand how much the technology may simplify your job or increase your productivity.  When your department is consistently turned down for high-cost technology purchases, you need to have the option to look elsewhere for funding...this is where grant money would allow you to make those purchases.

The hardest part is of applying for grant money is knowing where to look.  It is actually significantly easier then you might think.  Just “Google” the term “Law Enforcement grants” and you’ll come up with a handful of sites that will help you. Of course, there is the Department of Justice (DOJ) Website and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Website. Both websites announce different types of grants and offer a search to find a particular grant or grants. One website you might not think of right away is PoliceOne.

Surf around on PoliceGrantsHelp at the PoliceOne website for a while and you’ll see that there are a great number of grants that agencies can apply for.  When looking for an applying for grants you should be sure to carefully read the criteria of the grant.  For example, some grants may require a matching of funds or that your city/town/municipality has a specific crime rate, demographic, or population in order to qualify for the grant funding.  Adequate explanation of your needs and wording of the grant can significantly affect whether or not you are successfully awarded funding.  Because of this it is highly recommended to have senior leadership assist in the grant writing process (as they most likely have experience in doing so).  For those departments that have never written a grant before, you can look for online training or seminars throughout the country sponsored by the DOJ or DHS.

Most importantly, when you are writing your grant, be sure to have an adequate count of the inventory that you will be needing.  For example, if you are looking to outfit a police fleet with new mobile computers, be sure to take into account any software licensing, additional cabling, if new mounting systems will be required, and if the units you are purchasing will meet the requirements of the software programs that you will be looking to run on them or if you will require upgrades.  Take into account any additional items or upgrades you may need; if you are awarded grant money for computers but then don't have the capability of installing them, you will need to find alternate funding to cover those expenses as well.

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