Creating new community programs with a research-based approach

Grant funding is used for many purposes in the field of law enforcement. It has been awarded for SWAT, task forces, DNA programs, corrections courts, juvenile justice programs, research, evaluation, substance abuse and crime solutions, technology to fight crime, victim solutions and many other categories. One common thread throughout all of these categories is that each grant applicant must develop their grant program based on a framework of best practices, lessons learned from the past, industry research and outcomes.

No new or existing program may be built on conjecture, gut instincts or local group decisions without sound research and assessment of what has already been done in the industry, what works and modifications of what works. Brand new is highly subjective. When you have a new innovative idea you still need to lean on all of the past outcomes and build your new idea on the foundation which exists in the law enforcement industry.

Let’s take a look at a favorite past program such as DARE. This program was founded in 1983 by Daryl Gates seeking to prevent use of controlled drugs in gangs and violent behavior. This strategy falls into the prevention side of the field of juvenile substance abuse prevention. DARE was federally funded primarily through crime prevention funding with awarded through schools.  Over the years this program had success in many areas. In 1998 however, the DARE program failed to meet the then new federal guidelines that all grant programs must be both research-based and effective. To date, despite many studies, the DARE program has not met those standards and guidelines and has been disqualified from receiving any further federal grant money.

For example, much new research has been done in the field of juvenile justice prevention programs since the DARE program was conceived.  The Search Institute has establishes the 40 developmental assets for prevention and protection factors. They have proven that prevention is a complex mixture of relationships, asses and community support beyond the classroom and school system. Science has also demonstrated that the community at large plays a strong role in the success of prevention.

Today grant applicants have the benefit of much science, research and past successes in the field of law enforcement. When your department first decides to develop a grant application the first step is to do your due diligence to clarify your concept of what you wish to accomplish through a thorough search of the current research, current programmatic outcomes, and best practices in the area you wish to utilize your grant funding. 

Websites developed for this purpose by the federal and state grant funders along with private research and science based study results provide the grant seeker with knowledge at their fingertips.  Knowing where to look is the hardest part.

Colleges and Universities, think tanks and research organizations provide a wealth of knowledge. National and State Associations do their own research and publish outside findings to assure that their industry stays on top of the latest findings.

The best starting point for law enforcement seeking sound information on developing their grant concept into a sound evidence-based grant application are the following sites:

Bureau of Justice Assistance

Bureau of Justice Statistics

National Institute of Justice

National Criminal Justices Reference Service

Crime Solutions

Responder’s Knowledge Base

National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center

National Criminal Intelligence Resources Center

Once you have found sound data to support your concept for your approach to the grant program for which you are seeking funding, you can now begin to develop the framework for your grant application. 

DARE, Weed and Seed, Safer Teens, and some other programs are examples of programs many people ask me about for current funding. These programs did not pass the test of standards, guidelines, effective or promising practices and are not good choices for current grant seeking.  Make sure you are fully aware of current practices, research and issues within the field of law enforcement BEFORE you decide your approach to resolving law enforcement issues within your community.  Your due diligence will pay off in the long run.

Best wishes and thanks for your questions through!

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