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5 law enforcement equipment grants helping fund modern departments

A police drone hovers in the foreground on a sunny day. A police officer stands behind it and next to a vehicle with its emergency lights on.

Law enforcement agencies facing tight budgets and overdue upgrades can turn to both public and private sources for funding

Police departments need cutting-edge equipment to keep their officers and communities safe, but they sometimes lack the resources necessary. As a result, they’re forced to stick with the status quo. This can eventually lead to officers facing modern challenges without the tools they need. So how do departments upgrade their equipment without breaking the bank?

One helpful option is law enforcement equipment grants. These funding opportunities, offered both by public and private entities, give agencies a chance to level up their service. By writing a strong application tailored to the grant in question, an agency can secure the cash it needs to equip officers with body-worn cameras, drones and more. That keeps them safe and makes them more effective in the field, leading to safer communities. This list of grants will start you on your journey to a well-equipped department.

*This list of grants is not an exhaustive list. Other grants may be available to you. Your agency may or may not be eligible for these grants.

Be sure to read The essential guide to law enforcement equipment for even more information about outfitting today's officers.

Federal law enforcement equipment grants

The federal government offers a variety of funding opportunities for police departments. Most focus on specific issues, which range from mental health services to better reporting. So long as your application makes clear how your agency will use the money to address the issues in question, many of these funds can function as law enforcement equipment grants.

The Department of Justice, which administers most of these grants, provides a tool for viewing all its grants. It allows users to filter grants by DOJ branch and subject matter, among other criteria. Here are some highlights:

DOJ Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)

The COPS office aims to advance community policing nationwide. It focuses on building trust and respect between officers and their communities. As a result, much of its funding goes to hiring community policing professionals, testing innovative policing strategies and getting the proper training and tech to officers who need it.

COPS Office of Technology and Equipment Program (TEP) Invitational Solicitation

  • Estimated total funding: $177,800,000

  • Estimated average award: $1,000,000

  • Solicitation type: Competitive discretionary

  • To apply: Submit an SF-424 and an SF-LLL through Grants.gov, followed by an application through JustGrants

The COPS Office TEP Invitational grant is designed to develop and acquire effective equipment, technology and interoperable communications that help agencies respond to and prevent crime. Although its stated mission is broad, the applicant pool is not universal. To be eligible to apply, an agency must have been named by the Congressional Joint Explanatory Statement (JES). The COPS Office also hosts resources to help agencies apply.

DOJ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)

BJA aims to reduce violent crime, recidivism and unfair criminal justice outcomes. As a result, its scope includes not just police, but also courts, corrections, treatment, reentry, information sharing and community partnerships.

BJA Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program – State

  • Estimated total funding: $21,200,000

  • Estimated average award: $3,500,000

  • Solicitation type: Formula

  • To apply: Submit an SF-424 and an SF-LLL through Grants.gov, followed by an application through JustGrants

Named for an NYPD officer murdered while protecting a witness in a drug case, this grant is the leading federal source of criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions. Technology improvements are one of its many use cases, but the issues it emphasizes shift each year. In 2023, for example, it focused on justice system reform, racial equity, combating hate crimes, crime and violence reduction and community-based violence intervention (CVI). Learn more about the grant on the DOJ website.

Award totals are determined according to a formula published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. There is also a separate application pool for local agencies, which you can learn more about here.

Local Law Enforcement Crime Gun Intelligence Center Integration Initiative

  • Estimated total funding: $5,000,000

  • Estimated average award: $700,000

  • Solicitation type: Competitive

  • To apply: Submit an SF-424 and an SF-LLL through Grants.gov, followed by an application through JustGrants

Crime Gun Intelligence Centers aim to empower the investigation and prosecution of unlawful firearm use. BJA partnered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to create this fund, which helps areas with high rates of gun violence build out their centers. Agencies who apply must do so in conjunction with the local prosecutors they work with at their Crime Gun Intelligence Centers. Learn more about the grant here.

Rural and Small Department Violent Crime Reduction Program

  • Estimated total funding: $11,000,000

  • Estimated average award: $300,000

  • Solicitation type: Competitive

  • To apply: Submit an SF-424 and an SF-LLL through Grants.gov, followed by an application through JustGrants

Small and rural agencies often run into resource shortages. BJA designed this grant to alleviate those struggles with regard to violent crime. The grant supports improved training and technology, expanded community-based crime prevention programs, partnerships with victim services providers and other problem-solving strategies. Learn more about this funding opportunity here.

State law enforcement equipment grants

Some federal grants are awarded directly to individual states. It’s then up to those states to allocate funds through formulas or a competitive application process. Many states also apportion funds from their own budgets to build out a grant program. In Texas, for example, a wide slate of funding opportunities exists. One even targets body-worn cameras in particular.

State of Texas Body-Worn Camera Grant

  • Program Estimated total funding: $6,000,000

  • Estimated average award: Unavailable

  • Solicitation type: Competitive

  • To apply: Register and apply through eGrants.gov.texas.gov

The Office of the Governor of Texas will review applications for this grant to understand demand for the program and to evaluate cost-effectiveness of applications. It will then distribute the grant. Once awarded, funds can be used not just to obtain body-worn cameras, but also to acquire digital video storage, retrieval systems or cloud-based services.

If your agency is based in another state, check your state’s official website for funding opportunities.

Private law enforcement equipment grants

Although public funds for law enforcement equipment grants offer a lot of support, it’s difficult for them to meet the demands of every department in the nation. Your agency may not qualify for these grants, or its needs may be too specialized for public funding to address. Luckily, other funding opportunities are available through foundations and similar ventures.

Police foundations are charitable organizations – often nonprofits – that aim to bridge funding gaps in pursuit of safer communities. They receive donations both from members of the public and businesses. There are nearly 100 operating across the United States, and each has its own capital to distribute. Contacting a nearby foundation could be your first step toward acquiring the equipment you need to keep your community safe.

Corporate philanthropy presents another avenue for support. Although it cannot provide funding for technology purchases, efforts such as Axon Aid can still provide a wide breadth of resources, from funds for the families of fallen officers to Axon Air drones and drone operators. For example, when Hurricane Ian made land in 2022, Axon Aid deployed drone teams to help first responders in North Carolina assess the scale of the damage and locate people in need of assistance.

Want to learn more about Grant funding options? Contact us today - we’d love to discuss your technology needs and see how we can help.