Using federal grants to purchase firearms simulation technology

Firearms simulation systems are an allowable cost in many federal grant programs that focus on officer and public safety


The benefits of firearms training simulation systems are immeasurable in terms of improving officer training and safety; however, this technology may entail a large investment that's often not factored into your agency's general operating budget. Grants may be one of the solutions to cover your funding needs.  

Firearms training simulation systems are an allowable cost in many federal grant programs that focus on officer and public safety, police training and de-escalation strategies.

While most of the competitive federal grant opportunities have closed for this fiscal year, FY 2020 grant application periods should begin to open later this calendar year or in early 2020. Here is a sample of federal grant programs to consider if available in your geographic region.

Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program

JAG funds support all sectors of the criminal justice system and are the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) largest source of funding for law enforcement equipment, training and technology. Formula funding is awarded to State Administering Agencies (SAA) who must sub-award a large portion of this funding to other state and local agencies. Some communities also receive local JAG funding directly from DOJ based on their population and Part 1 crime statistics. Contact your SAA to discuss your training needs.

Homeland Security Grants (DHS)

Consider procuring a firearms simulation system to train officers and first responders across a targeted region. Various homeland security grants could support this effort.

  • The State Homeland Security Program provides funding to all states based on a Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) Stakeholder Preparedness Review (SPR) of 32 core capabilities.
  • The Urban Area Security Initiative provides funding to 31 high-risk urban areas across the U.S.
  • The Port Security Grant Program provides funding to state and local agencies that manage ports and port operations.
  • The Transit Security Grant Program allocates funding to public transit agencies, including their police units, for homeland security preparedness of transportation infrastructure.
  • Operation Stonegarden is funding targeted toward states with proximity to the international border or international waters for providing security in those areas.
  • The Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program provides funding for tribes to provide them with the ability to develop and deliver core capabilities using the combined efforts of the whole community.

National Officer Safety Initiatives Program

This grant program funds innovative training and technical assistance approaches to augment law enforcement safety in several key areas. Not only does this grant focus on developing approaches to better address the emotional and mental aspects of police work, but also the strategic and tactical aspects of the profession in order for officers to be safer, healthier and serve their communities. If your agency or task force has experience in training at a regional or national level, consider this grant source.

Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN)

This program is designed to create safer neighborhoods through a sustained reduction in gang violence and gun crime. This grant – a centerpiece of DOJ’s violent crime reduction efforts – is coordinated through each U.S. Attorney’s Office. Federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and other community members engage in a unified strategy to investigate, prosecute and prevent violent crime. Grant funds can be used to address critical officer safety concerns, situational awareness and much-needed training as long as it is tied back to your community’s PSN strategy. Reach out to the U.S. Attorney's Office for your area to become a PSN partner.

COPS School Violence Prevention Program

The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) School Violence Prevention Program grants allow state and local units of governments and tribes to improve security at schools and on school grounds through evidence-based school safety practices. Training for local law enforcement officers to prevent student violence against others and self is one of the safety measures covered under this program. Grant awards average $275,000. A 25% cash match is required.

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Gang Suppression Grant (OJJPD)

For many years, OJJDP offered grants to stem the tide of youth gang crime and violence as part of a community- and data-driven response. One of the core objectives of this program is to reduce and sustain reductions in community youth violence, particularly gun and gang violence, and victimization. Consider working with your community partners on an application and include the firearms simulation system in your budget as a training tool for your law enforcement partners, first responders and community advocates.

Justice and Mental Health Collaboration

Consider this grant opportunity if you are looking for de-escalation training and technology to respond to people with mental disorders or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse. This grant requires a collaboration between criminal justice (police, corrections, supervision, etc.) and behavioral health partners.

Strategies for Policing Innovation (SPI)

Grants under SPI allow police agencies to identify, test and expand innovative and evidence-based programs and strategies. This includes approaches that deal with violent offenders and are intended to decrease the risk of harm to first responders and increase officer safety. Grants of up to $650,000 each will be awarded this year.

Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation

Each year, DOJ offers millions in funding to federally recognized Indian Tribal Governments through one large solicitation encompassing 10 grant programs. One of the nine purpose areas tribes are using these funds for is public safety and community policing. Training and technology are allowable under many of the 10 programs.

USDA Rural Development

The USDA’s Rural Development Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program supports, among many things, public safety services and equipment. If you are located in a rural area, and qualify because of your population size and poverty level, you should consider applying for funding under this program. Grant awards can cover a portion of your total investment and vary from 15%–75% depending on your community’s poverty level and population size.

Final Thoughts

Most of these grants are competitive, so the more innovative and collaborative your strategy, the better your chances of receiving an award.

Start preparing early for those grants you would like to pursue. The average grant application period is only 4–6 weeks once the solicitation is announced.

Continue to monitor Grants.gov, the Office of Justice Programs and COPS websites so you’re aware as soon as these grant opportunities are posted.

The team at PoliceGrantsHelp is ready to help. Our grant assistance program includes a number of options including grant research, grant writing and grant application review. 

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