A preview of FY 2020 Department of Justice grants for police, corrections

There are several potential grant opportunities for law enforcement agencies


The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently released its FY2020 Program Plan, a searchable tool to help applicants find grant-funding opportunities to support criminal, juvenile and civil justice needs.

The Plan covers grant opportunities that are anticipated or are already available, between now and September 30, 2020 ‒ the end of the federal fiscal year. Currently, over 200 funding opportunities are included in the Plan, but the list continues to grow with additions from the various DOJ grantmaking agencies added almost daily.

Most of the grant opportunities are expected to be released between January and March of 2020. However, several may be released before the end of this calendar year. Also, keep in mind that this list may change once the FY2020 Federal Budget is passed, or if new legislative changes affect any of these programs in the coming months. New programs could be added, some opportunities may be canceled and the funding levels may change.  

Here are some grant opportunities included in the current Plan based on law enforcement’s most pressing needs and issues:

Law Enforcement Equipment and Technology

Strategies for Policing Innovation grants averaging $700,000 each will be available to enable police agencies to identify and define their most persistent crime problems and institute lasting operational and organizational changes. Projects should include evidence-based policing strategies.

The Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program will be available again this year allowing law enforcement agencies to purchase this technology to improve officer safety, enhance evidentiary value and enhance officer interactions in ways that contribute to building community trust.

Grants will be offered to support Crime Guns Intelligence Centers comprised of multidisciplinary teams of police, prosecutors, criminal justice partners and forensic experts. The Centers will work with the ATF to focus on the collection, management and analysis of crime gun evidence to solve firearm-related crimes. Up to eight grants averaging $750,000 each are expected to be awarded.

The Innovations in Community Based Crime Reduction Program focuses on high-crime communities with the goal of reducing violent crime, dismantling gang activity and aiding communities struggling with drug abuse. Grants averaging $1 million will cover technology, personnel, equipment and other resources needed to implement a collaborative community reduction strategy over four years.

The National Crime Statistics Exchange (NCS-X-State) Implementation Assistance Program Support can support technology enhancements law enforcement agencies may need for reporting crime data to the FBI's National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Grant awards will average $500,000.

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program is DOJ’s largest grant-funding source for all sectors of the criminal justice system. JAG supports a host of resource areas including law enforcement equipment and technology among several others.

Forensics and Intelligence Sharing

Crime scene analysis, digital technology forensics, data mining and firearms intelligence gathering are all critical operations for solving today’s crimes. Several DOJ grants may be available to support your equipment, technology and personnel needs in this area. Some to consider include:

The Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program has been offered for the past several years to assist agencies to improve the quality and timeliness of forensic science and medical examiner/coroner services.

The Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence - Inventory, Tracking, and Reporting will be available from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) providing funding to inventory, track and report the status of sexual assault kits.

NIJ will also offer up to 50 grants under the Research and Development in Forensic Science for Criminal Justice Purposes. Grants support basic and applied research and development within the forensic science area. Researcher/practitioner partnerships are always encouraged.

Crime Guns Intelligence Centers opportunity, described previously, has a strong focus on the analysis of gun crime evidence. Local jurisdictions are encouraged to work with their local ATF Crime Gun Intelligence Centers to collectively leverage their intelligence, technology and community engagement under these grant-funded projects.

Intelligence gathering and forensic work to solve gang-related crimes can also be supported through grants offered under the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Youth Gang Grant Program.

Officer Mental Health and Wellness

Funding is included in the FY2020 Program Plan to support projects focusing on officer emotional wellness, officer safety and the stressors of police work on officer performance. Some to consider for your agency include the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program, offered annually from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, NIJ’s Research and Evaluation in Safety, Health, and Wellness in Criminal Justice System and the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG). Law enforcement partnerships with community mental health providers are encouraged as part of any proposed strategy.

Opioid and other substance abuse

DOJ is continuing to provide grant funding to combat the opioid crisis in communities across the country and support substance abuse treatment to offenders in the nation’s correctional system.

Grants of up to $800,000 each will be offered under the Comprehensive Opioid Site-Based Program to cover resources needed by law enforcement officers and other first responders to respond to this epidemic.

The Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) Program funding is available again this year supporting the development and implementation of substance abuse treatment programs in state, local, and tribal correctional and detention facilities. A similar grant opportunity, the Initiative to Build Bridges Between Jail and Community-Based Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder, will fund a continuum of services from medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in local jails to treatment in the community upon release.

Rural areas beset with high rates of drug overdoses should consider applying for funding under the Targeted Grants to Rural Communities for Comprehensive Opioid Response. This is a new funding opportunity for FY 2020 to prevent and reduce overdose deaths associated with opioids and to research the patterns and characteristics of this problem across rural America. Up to 25 awards averaging $700,000 are expected to be awarded.

TIPS for landing a grant award in FY 2020

  1. Search the DOJ Program Plan regularly. More funding opportunities will be added or removed in the coming weeks and final funding levels may change.
  2. Visit the Office of Justice Programs Funding Opportunities and COPS Office grants web pages often so you’re aware as soon as the application period opens. Most grant application periods average only four weeks once the solicitation is announced.
  3. Review last year's grant solicitations for the programs on the DOJ Plan that you may be interested in applying for in 2020. While the grant guidelines may vary slightly from year to year, this will be a good way to prepare early by familiarizing yourself with the grant requirements and application structure.
  4. Begin developing your project strategy now. Meet with agency staff, community partners, task-force members and other stakeholders to iron out the details of what you want to propose in your application before you’re under the deadline pressure.

The PoliceGrantsHelp team is always available to assist. We offer grant writing services, application assembly and review, along with grant research assistance.

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