COPS Grants Advice Local Governments Need Now

2017 anti-heroin task force grants are funded at $10 million. COPS grants

For hiring, for training and for advancing anti-drug initiatives, grant expert Linda Gilbertson offers advice for COPS grants applications.

The Community Oriented Policing Services Office (COPS) is releasing several grant opportunities for local and state law enforcement agencies. COPS grants are vital to local law enforcement agencies, and it’s equally vital municipalities are ready to submit applications as soon as grants released.

Good grant management starts long before a grant application is due. While waiting for the COPS grants RFPs to hit, make it your municipality’s responsibility to know exactly what agencies’ will be asking for under these funding opportunities – and why.

The following three COPS grants programs are ripe for action by police grant writers now. Below that is advice for preparing applications and creating project proposals.

#1 COPS Hiring Program

For agencies struggling with understaffing issues, the COPS Hiring Program (CHP) is a great opportunity to augment police department or sheriff’s staff with new hires. However, the CHP is not a fully-funded program and cities will be required to cover some of the costs of an additional officer. CHP funds 75 percent of the entry-level salary for a new hire, with a max of $125,000 per officer over three years.

Municipal finance staff need to be involved to determine if your local government can afford all of the other costs involved, but CHP is a good way to increase staffing at a lower cost.

Also, restrictions under CHP are strong, so read every word of the solicitation to ensure full understanding. For example: supplanting is not allowed under federal grant opportunities.

One of the most important CHP restrictions is that officer positions must be new, and cannot be part of a city or agency’s current budget. If there are existing openings actually funded by a budget, reducing those numbers to take advantage of this opportunity is not allowed.

#2 Anti-Heroin Task Force & Anti-Methamphetamine Programs

There are COPS grants for the federal Anti-Heroin Task Force Program and the Anti-Methamphetamine Program, which are only open to state agencies. However, jurisdictions can partner with state agencies on applications.

For both of these programs, collaboration is a big plus – almost a must.

Local law enforcement agencies already partner with state agencies to address these issues, so create a program that takes advantage of these COPS grants.

#3 Community Policing Development Program

The Community Policing Development Program is locally focused and is one of the few grant programs that support training and technical assistance. For many agencies, those are important issues.

How to Prepare for COPS Grants Now: 

  1. Start the application right now to take advantage of any of these opportunities.
  2. Review the information about these programs on the COPS website.
  3. Review the list of 2016 and 2015 awarded projects.
    • For the COPS hiring program, full applications that were submitted are available to review. The questions needed for the application are there, so grant writers can get ahead on collect the needed information and data.
    • For the other programs, explore the list of agencies and projects that received COPS grants previously. Reach out to agencies that received funding for similar projects. They may be willing to send information about their project, including their application narratives.

How to Create a Fundable Project:

If a project has not already been planned or conceived of, a municipal agency is behind where it should be at this time. However, grant teams can get started by answering these questions:

  1. What’s the biggest problem the agency is trying to solve?
  2. What has the agency already done?
  3. What would the agency do differently if it had more funding?

Answering those questions is where agencies should start because the ability to show real problems is vital to successful COPS grants application.

Gather your data, review your current processes and develop a fundable project that will lead to positive results.

About the Author

Linda Gilbertson is a grant professional with more than 15 years of experience writing and managing grants for both non-profit and government agencies. She has 12 years of law enforcement-related experience in grant writing, grant management, crime analysis and research. She has been responsible for the acquisition of millions of dollars in federal, state and local grants during her career. Linda is also an award-winning journalist and has worked extensively with non-profit organizations in public relations and community education.

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