Local governments are often tightly budgeted, providing local police and sheriff’s departments with barely enough funding to pay personnel and provide basic equipment. Technology-based tools utilizing artificial intelligence, virtual reality and machine learning are available to assist law enforcement with investigations and policing. However, these tools are often out of reach for departments depending solely on local appropriated funds.
Thanks to federal grants programs, local agencies have opportunities to get the funding they need to purchase and deploy these advanced tools. The Department of Justice (DOJ), for example, has several grants programs that can benefit local law enforcement at the state, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) level and some DOJ grant programs encourage innovative concepts including testing and implementation of emerging technologies.
The Justice Department maintains programs through Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). JustGrants is the grants management system that coordinates all of these programs.
Helping the government help local law enforcement
Federal funding doesn’t come without strings however. Federal funding agencies, often following direction from Congress, or the executive and judicial branches, expect that federal funding can also incentivize compliance and performance from grant recipients. This is done by creating eligibility criteria and an expectation for performance data collection and reporting, both during the request or proposal phase and once a grant is received.
Nearly all of DOJ’s grant programs are subject to a peer review process where law enforcement officials, academic experts, community organization leaders, and those with expertise in areas related to the grant program review and score grant proposals according to the requirements of the grant solicitation or RFP. In many cases, it greatly benefits the applicant agency to demonstrate its ability to collect and use data to drive agency performance.
In terms of compliance, many federal funding sources (including DOJ’s programs) may set eligibility criteria that can be administrative (such as law enforcement agency type or size) or more operationally focused, such as requiring that an agency be accredited before becoming eligible for the funding. It is also important to know that even after funding is received, there are ongoing compliance requirements, including some that pertain to the procurement and use of technologies, such as compliance with rules that pertain to federally-funded information sharing and intelligence systems.
An example: Planning and preparedness in VR
At the upcoming International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in San Diego, CGI and Battle Road Digital will offer a demo of a virtual-reality geospatial information system that can display geographic relationships of relevant law enforcement resources.
Battle Road builds technology that powers the Metaverse. At CGI, we integrated its Metaverse environment with our Sunflower asset management solution and developed a prototype that enables users to “see,” in three dimensions, the location and condition of resources that they might need in situations such as a natural disaster, planning for a presidential visit or preparing for a demonstration expected to draw a big crowd.
The system is intended more for planning and preparation than for active response. Think about the recent wildfires in Hawaii. After-action reports will have recommendations on planning, preparedness and testing. This system would allow local officials to game out various scenarios in light of those recommendations.
We expect state and county governments to be the main buyers of the system, who then can provide it to cities and towns. Grant funding will be the key to making such technologies available, however—DOJ, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration could all be funding sources for this particular system.
Many local law enforcement organizations depend on federal grants to keep their personnel well-equipped and to provide them with newer technologies. The challenge many of these local agencies have is knowing when those funds are available and how to navigate the requirements of successfully applying, particularly when they can change often.
CGI and its partners can assist in maintaining awareness of the funding and assisting local departments in developing effective proposal strategies as well as technology implementation and compliance.
For more on how CGI supports law enforcement, visit this page.
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