DOJ’s Proposed 2022 Budget for Grant Funding Reveals Focus On Police Reform

Body cameras, anti-bias training and restrictions on police use of force are all items for proposed funding in DOJ’s FY22 budget

 


Story By Sarah Wilson for Lexipol | Police1.com

 

The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations approved their funding bill in July for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022. We spent some time going through the 168-page report to identify emerging trends for federal law enforcement grants in 2022.

Below are some highlights. Note: At the time of publication, the FY22 budget has not been approved by the Senate and therefore not signed by the president. A continuing resolution has been proposed to maintain continuity of service. Expect more to develop as the FY22 budget is finalized and as grants impacting law enforcement departments are released (typically in the spring).

JAG/COPS FUNDS: FOCUS ON IMPROVING POLICE PRACTICES

Perhaps the most obvious trend in FY22 proposed funding for the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) and COPS hiring grant is a focus on police reform. Both programs require jurisdictions to certify through the U.S. Attorney General that the jurisdiction satisfies nine key requirements “aimed at improving police practices.” These practices target issues including racial profiling, excessive force (including choke holds), “no-knock” warrants, and sexual contact between officers and people in their custody.

Several of the nine requirements make reference to the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, as passed by the House of Representatives on March 3, 2021. As bipartisan talks on this legislation have broken down in the Senate, passage of the George Floyd Act looks unlikely at time of publication. Therefore, it’s unclear whether these requirements will be part of the final appropriations bill. Regardless, all agencies should be on notice that the administration is clearly seeking ways to encourage agencies to adopt common police reform measures and consider this when preparing grant funding requests.

Additional stipulations in the funding request also point to the DOJ’s interest in police reform. The bill requires each applicant’s Byrne JAG formula funds to be spent in the following ways:

  • 10% to develop and implement best practices to eliminate racial profiling, including training to prevent racial profiling and to encourage more respectful interaction with the public, the acquisition and use of technology to facilitate the accurate collection and analysis of data, the development and acquisition of feedback systems and technologies that identify officers or units of officers engaged in, or at risk of engaging in, racial profiling or other misconduct, and the establishment and maintenance of an administrative complaint procedure or independent auditor program
  • 5% to assist law enforcement agencies in attaining or maintaining accreditation from certified law enforcement accreditation organizations
  • 5% to study and implement effective management, training, recruiting, hiring, and oversight standards and programs to promote effective community and problem-solving strategies for law enforcement agencies
  • 5% to purchase or lease body-worn cameras; fund body-worn camera programs in order to deter excessive force or improve accountability, transparency and evidence collection; or implement policies or procedures consistent with requirements as described in section 382 of H.R. 1280

OTHER REFORM-MINDED FUNDING

JAG and COPS aren’t the only grant programs mentioned in the DOJ FY22 proposed budget, but as with the JAG and COPS funds, the focus is again on police reform and accountability measures. Highlights include:

  • $35 million for the competitive matching grant program for purchases of body-worn cameras and related expenses

  • $42 million to train law enforcement officers on racial profiling, implicit bias, de-escalation, use of force and the related duty to intervene, and procedural justice
  • $100 million to assist states in conducting “pattern and practice” investigations of law enforcement
  • $7.2 million to support state and local law enforcement in complying with reform efforts as a result of litigation including, but not limited to, consent decrees, out of court agreements, memoranda of understanding, findings, technical assistance, and recommendation letters from reform authorities
  • $250 million to assist in implementing statutes providing for independent investigation of law enforcement officers
  • $5 million for the National Task Force on Law Enforcement Oversight, which is designed to coordinate the detection and referral of complaints regarding incidents of alleged law enforcement misconduct nationwide, in consultation with professional law enforcement associations, labor organizations, and community-based organizations
  • $5 million for continued development and implementation of a first-of-its-kind National Police Misconduct Registry, designed to serve as a central repository of data with respect to all federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, to be compiled and maintained by the DOJ

ADDITIONAL GRANT PROGRAMS

The DOJ FY22 proposed budget isn’t only focused on police reform measures. For programs funded under the Violence Against Women Act, the bill provides $753 million an increase of 48% above fiscal year 2021. This includes new grant programs specifically for communities that are underrepresented and underserved, including the deaf and transgender communities.

For school safety, the bill provides $140 million, an increase of $15 million, to fund the STOP School Violence Act of 2018. In addition, the bill increases funding for other activities that will address school violence, including strong funding increases for youth mentoring grants and grants for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. The bill also funds a new program aimed at providing alternatives to incarceration for parents as well as juveniles.

The bill also proposes funding two grant programs aimed at developing new strategies to enhance police/community trust and reduce crime through community approaches. The Public Safety Innovation Grants program would receive $5 million for the development of best practices for, and the creation of, local task forces on public safety innovation. These task forces would be created from partnerships between community-based organizations and other local stakeholders to explore and develop innovative strategies to enhance just and equitable public safety, repair breaches of trust between law enforcement agencies and communities, and enhance officer accountability. And nearly $103 million is allocated for Byrne Discretionary Community Project Grants to prevent crime, improve the criminal justice system and provide victims’ services.

NEXT STEPS

The committee recommended further investigation and research into several emerging issues, including:

  • Access to mental health services for law enforcement

  • Technology-facilitated harassment
  • White supremacist infiltration in law enforcement

The next step in budget approval is the Senate’s appropriation bill approval. Stay tuned!

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COPS Office Announces the Opening of the 2022 ‘Community Policing in Action’ Photo Contest

The Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) today announced the launch of the eighth annual “Community Policing in Action” Photo Contest. The contest, piloted in 2014, has received widespread support from law enforcement for providing a platform that visually demonstrates community policing and emphasizes the importance of building and maintaining relationships with community members.

Since the contest’s inception, over 900 law enforcement agencies from across the country have submitted images representing positive community engagement. The COPS Office is pleased to continue this tradition that provides agencies with the opportunity to share these impactful connections with the communities they serve.

All state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies are invited to submit one official submission of one image that reflects the agency’s community policing and trust building with community members, stakeholders, local government, and others. A submission must include the Permission and Release to Law Enforcement Agencies Form and the Privacy Consent, Waiver, and Release Authorizing Use and Disclosure of Photographic Image Form(s). Please visit the photo contest website for information on complete submissions and the contest rules, terms and conditions.

The COPS Office will select 12 winning photos to be featured on the COPS Office website and its Twitter and Facebook headers for one month during the 2022 calendar year. The winners will also be featured in the COPS Office newsletter, the Community Policing Dispatch, as well as in a COPS Office-issued press release. Please note that photos may be used in other COPS Office communications in the future and there is no cash award or other prize for this photo contest. 

The submission deadline is Tuesday, November 2, 2021 at 8 PM ET. The complete contest rules, terms and conditions, as well as frequently asked questions, can be found on the photo contest website.

Please email tellcops@usdoj.gov with any questions regarding the contest.

The COPS Office is the federal component of the Department of Justice responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. The only Department of Justice agency with policing in its name, the COPS Office was established in 1994 and has been the cornerstone of the nation’s crime fighting strategy with grants, a variety of knowledge resource products, and training and technical assistance. Through the years, the COPS Office has become the go-to organization for law enforcement agencies across the country and continues to listen to the field and provide the resources that are needed to reduce crime and build trust between law enforcement and the communities served. The COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 134,000 officers.

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Reducing Homelessness: Police Collaboration with Transitional Shelters May Be Key

Transitional shelters are used as a means of getting people, who are truly ready, off the streets. (PIxabay)

 

Story By Mike Hale for Police1.com

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates there are more than half a million people in the United States experiencing homelessness.

Homelessness is a complicated issue with no easy solutions; however, transitional shelters coupled with collaboration among key stakeholders could be a solution for communities.

TRANSITIONAL SHELTERS

Transitional shelters are used as a means of getting people, who are truly ready, off the streets. Once the person is in the shelter, they must learn how to live in a house again before having the opportunity to be transitioned into longer-term housing.

One form of shelter is a transitional shelter with a “low-barrier” concept that specifically addresses those hard-to-reach persons who are resistant to shelters due to traditional barriers to entry such as intoxication, drug addiction, pet ownership, being in the company of significant others, medical issues and mental health matters.

When law enforcement is part of the collaboration in these shelter systems, there is the potential for better outcomes because the police can work with homeless populations and advocates to encourage those hard-to-reach or reluctant persons to accept a referral into a shelter. The police can help facilitate homeless individuals to be matched with available transitional shelters. With their daily interaction with the homeless, police officers who are intimately familiar with a transitional shelter’s amenities can start the referral process at the point of contact with persons experiencing homelessness. Officers’ efforts can sell the idea of sheltering and make it more appealing by describing programs, positive outcomes and success stories that may help – even for shelter-resistant individuals.

Some organizations or communities might think these ideas are good but don’t know where to start. One city’s experience can help guide those who want to consider transitional housing and can serve as an example of how partnerships were formed and what is possible with a goal in mind.

CASE STUDY: BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA

The City of Bakersfield, California, purchased land and partnered with a private shelter organization to develop one of the first low-barrier and transitional shelters in the region, the Mercy House – Brundage Lane Navigation Center (BLNC). The BLNC was opened in October 2020, funded almost entirely by local government. It includes partnerships with on-site staffing from Kern County Mental Health and the county hospital, Kern Medical.

Within one month of the BLNC being open, it served 61 persons and housed four individuals who were ready to leave life on the streets.

The shelter offers job training with a culinary program and has partnered with a local restaurant to provide jobs for those who complete the training. Residents are provided free transportation to and from job sites, job training, resume services and interview preparation. They also can obtain clothing suitable for job interviews at no cost and have access to employment opportunities through the street ambassador program where homeless persons provide cleaning services in the community, ranging from picking up debris to cleaning with high-pressure washers.

Additional opportunities exist through a state partnership with the shelter and the city to clean freeway embankments. The city helps facilitate these opportunities by providing transportation, supervision and logistics.

The BLNC’s guiding philosophy is straightforward – get more people off the street into housing through the transitional shelter process, and for those individuals to become productive members of society.

THE IMPACT OF THE BLNC

With the COVID pandemic in 2020 and the BLNC being a new shelter, the first-year data is likely skewed; however, data does show a positive correlation to the use of a low-barrier and transitional shelter philosophy.

According to the Bakersfield Police Department’s Crime Analysis Unit data, compared to two other shelters that have been in existence since the 1950s and early 1990s, the BLNC had fewer police calls for service to the shelter thus far in 2021. Overall call volumes for the new shelter from January 2021 to June 2021 are 64% lower compared to Bakersfield’s oldest shelters, and 22% lower than one of the shelters in operation since the 1990s.

To continue this success, officers need to be familiar with the local shelter programs and systems so they can advocate on behalf of the shelter to encourage people to participate in programs like job training, employment opportunities and other related programs that ultimately help get people off the streets.

For the BLNC to continue with positive outcomes, staff should market its success through local media, public officials and the community. The BLNC should also continue looking for partnership opportunities to build a more robust transitional shelter that makes the transition easier for patrons and more appealing for people to consider use of the shelter.

ADDRESSING MENTAL HEALTH

Mental health is an important in-house option for a full-circle transitional shelter. Many homeless persons are impacted by mental health issues and require services, especially in a shelter setting. Persons who have mental health issues require consistent care through counseling, medication and other programs.

Progressive transitional shelters, such as the BLNC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, recommend the use of on-site mental health and medical care workers to keep individuals in the shelter for those needs, hopefully alleviating the concerns of neighbors who fear added police calls related to persons moving in and out of the shelter property. With mental health care on-site through a partnership with local county government, private shelters can keep most services in-house, thus keeping persons in the shelter and reducing the impact on police and the adjoining neighbors.

Shelters like Santa Ana’s Homeless Multi-Service Center, which utilizes a county-contracted mental health service program, offer evaluation, individual services and group services. This approach means a shelter can begin to transition someone with mental health issues, and the in-house process can triage and immediately begin mental healthcare, keeping the resident in the shelter while undergoing treatment.

In May 2019, I toured the 40 Prado Homeless Services Center in San Luis Obispo, California. During the tour, several staff members presented information about their program, including the fact that their transitional shelter requires patrons to take care of the facility through shelter programs, and patrons receive on-the-job training related to cleaning the shelter, basic responsibilities, and maintenance. The hope is that the individuals are less likely to be part of the problems in the community or to participate in quality-of-life crimes that police are tasked with handling.

When shelters utilize a low-barrier philosophy and, at the same time, create an environment built for success and patron responsibility, the likelihood of positive outcomes increases.

Bakersfield city staff conducted many community meetings to include business owners in the planned shelter. Although there were many concerns with the shelter, city staff, in conjunction with key stakeholders, worked to develop best practices based on visits to many shelters in California. This was designed to help with gaining support from the community and especially nearby businesses to reduce resistance or quell not-in-my-backyard conversations.

CONCLUSION

Although there is a need for law enforcement to focus on issues that are strictly police matters, homeless issues and related crimes will inevitably be handled by law enforcement as first responders. If there are relationships between shelter collaboratives and law enforcement, they can have a true impact on homelessness and the associated issues most communities have yet to resolve.

About the author

Mike Hale is the acting assistant chief of police for the Bakersfield (California) Police Department. He has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and a master’s degree in public policy administration and is a California POST Command College graduate.

EDITOR’S NOTE

This article is based on research conducted as a part of the CA POST Command College. It is a futures study of a particular emerging issue of relevance to law enforcement. Its purpose is not to predict the future; rather, to project a variety of possible scenarios useful for planning and action in anticipation of the emerging landscape facing policing organizations.

COPS Office Provides Wellness Provider Vetting Guide

The guide is available online only and can be accessed here.


Product ID: COPS-W0963
Publication Date: 08/09/2021
Author(s): Fraternal Order of Police Division of Wellness Services