2017 COPS Office grants: What police leaders need to know

For the best chance at this funding, start preparing now by reviewing past successful applications and knowing grant requirements

The Community Oriented Policing Services Office is about to release several grant opportunities for local and state law enforcement agencies. The COPS Office grants are very important programs for law enforcement and it’s vital that you are ready to submit an application as soon as they are released. Here are three programs you need to know about and consider for funding:

1. COPS Hiring Program

For agencies struggling with understaffing issues, the COPS Hiring Program is a great opportunity to augment your staff with new hires. However, the CHP is not a fully-funded program and you will be required to cover some of the costs of an additional officer. CHP funds 75 percent of the entry-level salary for a new hire, with a max of $125,000 per officer over three years. Your finance folks will be very important for determining that you will be able to afford all of the other costs involved, but it’s a good way to increase your staffing at a lower cost to you.

The restrictions under CHP are strong so read every word of the solicitation to ensure you fully understand them. One of the most important restrictions is that these officer positions must be new and cannot be part of your current budget. If you have existing openings that are actually funded by your budget, you can’t reduce those numbers to take advantage of this opportunity. That’s called supplanting and it’s never allowed in federal grants.

2. Anti-heroin task force program and anti-methamphetamine program

The COPS Office opportunities include the Anti-Heroin Task Force Program and the Anti-Methamphetamine Program, which are only open to state agencies. If these are problem issues in your jurisdiction it’s a good idea to check with your state agencies to see if they are going to apply and if you can be part of the application as a partner organization.

For both of these programs collaboration is a big plus – almost a must. You are probably already partnering with other agencies to address these issues, so make contact as soon as possible to create a program that takes advantage of this opportunity.

3. Community Policing development program

The Community Policing Development Program is locally focused and is one of the few grant programs that support training and technical assistance. For many agencies, that’s an important issue.

Prepare for COPS Office grants now

To take advantage of any of these opportunities, it’s very important that you start right now. Review the information available on the COPS Office website about these programs.

I strongly recommend you review the list of 2016 and 2015 awarded projects. For COPS hiring you can see the full applications that were submitted. It also shows you the questions you will be asked in the application, which gives you ample time to collect the data and other information needed.

For the other programs, you will see a list of the agencies that received the grants and the names of their projects. Reach out to those agencies that received funding for projects similar to the one you are considering. They may be willing to send you information about their project, including their application narratives.

If you don’t have a project already in mind you are behind where you should be at this point. Get started by answering these questions:

What’s the biggest problem you are trying to solve?

What have you already done?

What would you do differently if you had funding?

Answering those questions is where you start because your ability to show you have a real problem is vital to a successful grant application. Gather your data, review your current processes and develop a fundable project that will lead to positive results.

Good grant management starts long before a grant application is due. So, while you are waiting for the COPS Office grant program RFPs to hit, make it your responsibility to know exactly what you will be asking for under these new funding opportunities – and why.

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