Laura Millar
Grants can be overwhelming.  Figuring out the process of winning a fire department grant or police grant can seem daunting before you even start.
But as the adage goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins wi
th a single step.


Our PublicEye
® team would like to provide you with a step-by-step guide to the grant proposal process for law enforcement, fire, and EMS departments from start to finish. In this blog, we will discuss critical first steps in your grant-writing journey.
Identify Your Need

If you are reading a blog post about winning grants, you’ve probably identified that your department has a need. Maybe you desperately need a new fire station or upgrade your police cruisers. Understanding what you need is important, but identifying why you need it is vital to a winning public safety grant proposal. The people offering grant money want to be sure their commitment will be put to good use. Before you begin to search for opportunities, take some time to answer the following questions:

  • What are the problems that need to be solved?    Understand what the problem is, the cause, and what it means for the department and community.
  • What will it take for us to solve this problem?    This could be the purchase of new equipment, additional training, hiring more people, upgrading software, etc.
  • What will the result of making the changes be?   What is the outcome of winning this grant? This will be crucial to your applications; grant panels want to understand how their money will create real and positive change to the community.
Begin Your Research

Now that you have a comprehensive idea of your need, the next step is to begin identifying potential grants. There is a grant out there for nearly every proposal; the trick is to know where to look.
Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security distributes money to agencies seeking funding to increase their preparedness capabilities and to protect infrastructure. They grant billions of dollars to states, cities, and transportation authorities.
This is the source to apply for many types of federal grants, including grants for EMS, fire, and law enforcement.
National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
The NIJ is interested in funding the research and development of criminal justice, as well as evaluation of existing entities. Their grant focuses shift from year to year based on their available funds and research priorities.
Specifically designed for police departments applying for grants, this website includes a grant database full of federal, state, local, and corporate funding opportunities.
The brother website to PoliceGrantsHelp.com, this site offers a database filled with federal, state, local, and corporate grant opportunities for fire departments.
Grants Office
Grants Office offers resources for grant writing resources, as well as professional editing and writing services.
Grant Providers on PoliceOne.com
The online police headquarters, PoliceOne.com, offers a database of current grant providers offering funds from private and public sources.
Create a Short List

You have poured through dozens, if not hundreds of opportunities. You have found police grants, law enforcement grants, fire grants, homeland security grants… It is likely that you have found so many potential opportunities that you are starting to get overwhelmed. Now is the time to create a short list of your ideal grant opportunities.
In the end, you want to only apply to the funders that are most likely to fund you. It’s time to play matchmaker between your needs and the grant opportunities you find.
  • What are they looking to fund?    If you want to purchase a new cruiser, and they’re funding mobile data computers, it is a waste of your time and theirs to apply for this grant. Make sure that your needs match specifically to what they want to fund.
  • Who are they looking to support?    Is this a grant for low-income communities? Are they looking to support innovative technologies in public safety? 
  • Are you eligible for the grant?   Many grants have limitations attached. These limitations might be linked to yearly budgets, populations, or past grant experiences. Do not lie or omit data to make your department fit into a grant’s limitations if they do not. 

Half the battle in winning grants is knowing what you want, and finding the organizations that can help you get it. Having a strong idea of your departments needs and conducting smart research will save you time and give you a competitive edge.
Be sure to check out our second blog on grants in public safety. To learn about how PublicEye can help you better serve your community, click here.

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