Federal, state or private grant funding may be a great option to cover the cost of a law enforcement agency's digital forensics tools
Electronic data gathered from cellphones, surveillance cameras, laptop and desktop computers, or other smart technology devices is often critical evidence for solving cases.
Whether your law enforcement agency is currently operating a digital forensics lab or establishing a unit, you need the right equipment, software and other technology to properly extract, analyze and report on the data. These tools can be expensive and challenging to acquire with limited agency budgets. Fortunately, federal, state or private grant funding may be a great option to cover the cost of a police department's digital forensics tools.
Here are several funding sources for digital forensics equipment and technology for police investigations.
The Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program (the Coverdell Program) supports grants to states and units of local government to help improve the quality and timeliness of forensic science and medical examiner/coroner services. Two grant opportunities were available this fiscal year: competitive and formula. The funding can support personnel, computer hardware and software costs, training, laboratory equipment, supplies and accreditation. Reach out to your State Administering Agency (SAA) to inquire if formula grant funding may be available to support your needs, or apply directly to the U.S. Department of Justice when the competitive funding becomes available most likely next year.
If your agency is located in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, consider applying for the Gulf States Regional Law Enforcement Technology Initiative Grant. These grants will be awarded to law enforcement projects in these five states that focus on the gathering, analysis and dissemination of information critical to investigating, reporting and responding to crimes and suspicious activity in communities. Up to 18 grants will be awarded with a maximum award amount of $150,000. The application period is open now with a deadline of October 4, so act quickly.
Innovative Prosecution Solutions for Combating Violent Crime grants are part of the Department of Justice’s Innovations Suite of programs that focus on a science-based approach to criminal justice operations. Innovative Prosecution competitive grant funds assist prosecutors to use technology, intelligence and data in innovative ways that enable the office to focus resources on the people and places associated with high concentrations of criminal behavior and crime. Grant opportunities under this program have been available for the past few years and will most likely be available again next fiscal year.
Are your agency’s officers or investigators assigned to specialized task forces targeting areas such as human trafficking, gangs and guns, internet crimes against children or anti-drugs? Many of the federal grants that support these task forces within and across states encourage applicants to include investigative/analytical technology into their budget request.
The Department of Justice annually offers competitive grants to support multi-disciplinary task forces to combat human trafficking. Grant amounts average $850,000.
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) grants support the work of task forces representing federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement officials, prosecutors and community leaders who identify the most pressing violent crime problems in a community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. Reach out to your local U.S. Attorney's office to speak with the PSN coordinator in your area.
Combatting internet crimes against children and child exploitation have been supported through grants from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). This agency has funded the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program since 1998. Grants have been awarded to support task forces focused on developing an effective response to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and Internet crimes against children. Awards under this year’s program will be as high as $1.5 million.
Over the past several years, the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office has provided grant opportunities to support anti-drug task forces under the COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program (CAMP) and Anti-Heroin Task Force Program (AHTF). Grants are awarded to states with high per capita rates of primary treatment admissions for heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and other opioids, or a high seizures of precursor chemicals, finished methamphetamine, laboratories and laboratory dump seizures. Technology and equipment for digital forensics investigations can be supported under both of these grant programs.
Many state criminal justice agencies offer grant opportunities to local law enforcement to target pressing needs within their jurisdiction. Check with your state criminal justice agency or state attorney’s office and inquire what grants may be available.
One of the priority areas for this year’s funding for the Children's Justice Act Program, offered through the state of Texas, is “Improving the Response to Internet Crimes Against Children & Use of Digital Evidence.” Grants between $50,000-$150,000 will be awarded under this year’s program.
Your state’s banking and insurance regulatory agencies may have funding available to support the investigative and analytical work required to detect fraud. Reach out to your state representative to discuss your needs.
There is a large pool of corporate funders, private foundations and community giving programs that may be offering grant opportunities to support your digital forensics resource needs.
Consider grocery stores like Aldi and Safeway that provide grants aimed at keeping communities safe. Big box stores such as Target, Walmart and Sam’s Club offer grants to support public safety and community well-being. Reach out to the larger banks in your area and inquire about their corporate giving programs. Mobile carriers like AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile may be able to assist as well.
Law enforcement trade associations including The Spirit of Blue Foundation have grants available to support your equipment and training needs.
The Foundation Center is also a great source for finding what community foundation(s) represent your area.
With a bit of research, strategic planning and creative thinking, your agency can land the grant funding you need to conduct the digital forensics activity that will greatly aid in solving crime in your area.
The Team at PoliceGrantsHelp is ready to assist. Our grant assistance program includes several options for departments seeking assistance in securing grant funding to support the work you do for our communities every day.
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