To Unfunded BWC Applicants: Don't Give Up!
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
On Monday, September 21st 2015 the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the awardees of the Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Body-Worn Pilot Implementation Program that was first publicized in May of this year.
For those unaware, the Body-Worn Pilot Implementation Program supports the implementation of body-worn camera (BWC) programs in law enforcement agencies across the country. The intent of the program is to help develop, implement, and evaluate a BWC program as one tool in a law enforcement comprehensive problem-solving approach to enhance officer interactions with the public and build community trust.
The program, which initially had $20 million of funding, received an infusion of an additional $2.5 million. This infusion allowed the Bureau of Justice Assistance to award more law enforcement agencies than originally anticipated.
There were 73 total awards as opposed to the 50 awards that were originally targeted. All in all, the BJA received 285 applications that requested over $56 million in funding, which equates to roughly 55,000 BWC. The BJA ended up awarding 73 agencies about $23 million for the purchase of 21,000 BWC.
However, what if you are among the 212 applicants who weren’t funded or perhaps unaware of this opportunity all together? What now?
Don’t fret, you have numerous options. There are many offerings from the BJA, among other sources, that can help fund or, at the very least, offset the cost of a BWC project.
You may want to consider the BJA’s Justice Assistance Grant (JAG), including both the Local Solicitations and State Administered JAG programs. Although these allocations seem fewer each year, the largely unrestricted opportunities could be an excellent source of funding for a modest deployment of a BWC project that can be built upon through other grants and funding stream.
Earlier this year the BJA released the Smart Policing Initiative (SPI), which contained Purpose Area 2 that was specific to BWC.
Applications were solicited from law enforcement agencies interested in using BWCs as a key component in problem-solving strategy to enhance public and officer safety as well as to improve policing practices through increased transparency, accountability, and legitimacy.
There also exists the Office on Violence against Women’s (OVW) Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders Program.
The program is designed to encourage partnerships not only between state, local, and tribal governments, but also courts, victim service providers, coalitions, and rape crisis centers to ensure that sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, and stalking are treated as serious violations of criminal law.
This would include requiring the coordinated involvement of the entire criminal justice system and community-based victim service organizations.
While the program is focused on forging partnerships, developing policies and protocol, and implementing training programs, there is also the potential to position some BWC as part of larger, comprehensive project.
There are also additional funding options through the Department of Homeland Security.
The State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) assists state and local preparedness activities that address high-priority preparedness gaps across all core capabilities where a nexus to terrorism exists. SHSP funds can support a number of initiatives, including those technology focused, such as BWCs.
The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) could also be utilized for a BWC project. The UASI assists high-threat and high-density Urban Areas in efforts to build and sustain the capabilities necessary to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism.
For tribal law enforcement agencies, there is BWC funding potential through the Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program (THSGP).
THSGP’s allowable costs support all core capabilities in the Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery mission areas.
Another route to fund BWCs for tribal law enforcement agencies is the Office of Community Oriented Policing Service’s Consolidated Tribal Assistance Program (CTAS) (specifically, Purpose Area #1: Tribal Resources Grant Program (TRGP) Hiring and Equipment/Training). This holds immense potential to fund a BWC project.
Purpose Area #1 is designed to expand the implementation of community policing and meet the most serious needs of law enforcement in Tribal Nations through a broadened comprehensive program.
The funding can be used to hire or re-hire career law enforcement officers and Village Public Safety Officers, as well as procure basic equipment and training to assist in the initiation or enhancement of Tribal community policing efforts.
If you are one of the 212 unfunded applicants, there is solace in knowing that the work you have put into the Body-Worn Pilot Implementation Program, in terms of application development, will not have been in vain.
With a little editing here and there and customization of your application to conform with the funder’s grant requirements you can recycle, reuse, and repurpose the application for BWC friendly grants.
If you haven’t applied for BWC, but plan to in the future and don’t know where to begin with your project, the BJA offers a comprehensive online toolkit that consolidates important considerations.
These considerations include research, promising practices, model policies, and other tools that address issues surrounding body-worn cameras.
Some common issues the toolkit addresses are implementation requirements, image retention, community engagement, and the concerns of policy makers, prosecutors, victim, and privacy advocates.
The toolkit is available at https://www.bja.gov/bwc/