OJA awards grants to small law enforcement agenciesThe Office of Justice Assistance awarded $300,000 in federal Byrne Justice Assistance grant funds to 68 police and sheriff departments across the Wisconsin for Smaller Police Agency Crime Initiative grants.
The Office of Justice Assistance awarded $300,000 in federal Byrne Justice Assistance grant funds to 68 police and sheriff departments across the Wisconsin for Smaller Police Agency Crime Initiative grants.
The grant awards were selected to improve officer and public safety, improve communication capacity between departments, and improve officer efficiency.
About 119 agencies submitted $955,000 in grant requests, far outpacing the amount of money available. Sixty-eight agencies received full or partial funding.
“These grants reflect Gov. (Scott) Walker’s commitment to public safety, and the needs of many smaller police agencies across the state,” said John Murray, Office of Justice Assistance executive director. “The investment of these dollars benefits not only our dedicated public safety professionals, but the citizens they protect and serve.”
Money from the grants enables small police agencies to purchase items such as tactical vests and ballistic shields; new software and updates for department Records Management Systems; forensic devices; thermal imaging equipment; technological upgrades to improve interviewing room capabilities and enhance daily operations; and officer training in areas such as interviewing techniques, investigative photography, officer safety, crowd control and technical training for software applications used on the job.
Appropriate equipment is necessary regardless of the size of the agency or department.
Smaller police agencies — those with twenty or fewer sworn officers — often do not have the economy of scale to absorb capital costs and make investments in needed, but expensive equipment.
Smaller police agencies are also overlooked frequently in many competitive grant opportunities, which may have eligibility or criteria that favors larger agencies.
The small agency grant program is designed to provide opportunities for smaller police and sheriff departments to request funding to address their specific department’s needs.
In addition to providing public safety services in their own communities, many smaller law enforcement agencies and county sheriff departments are called on to assist in other jurisdictions. Small police agencies contributing their resources are an important part of effective response to larger incidents.
This is the fifth year OJA has offered the grants; the maximum award is $10,000. Over the past five years, OJA has awarded $1.86 million in grants to 316 agencies.
The Ashland County Sheriff’s Department, Washburn County Sheriff’s Department and village of Lake Nebagamon Police Department were among this year’s grant recipients. The Village of Lake Nebagamon Police Department was awarded a $6,715 grant and will be used to purchase equipment for the police department. Other area grants included $9,984 to the Ashland County Sheriff’s Department for mobile computing devices and $5,850 to the Washburn County Sheriff’s Department.