Cities Need to Know How to Apply for Law Enforcement Block Grant Funds

Article excerpt

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) of the U.S. Department of Justice is preparing application kids for cities to apply for the new, $503 million formula block grant program This program, funded under the final FY 1996 appropriations bill, will provide cities and towns with direct, flexible assistance to develop or enhance anti-crime, anti-drug, and violence prevention initiatives.

NLC met recently with Nancy Gist, Director of BJA, who provided the details below about the new program.

Q. How much money will be distributed?

A. The total appropriation for this new program is $503 million lion for the remainder of FY 1996, which ends September 30, 1996. The statute allows for a maximum three percent to be used by the Attorney General for oversight and administration and one percent for use by the National Institute of Justice in assisting localities identify, select, develop, modernize, and purchase new technologies for use by law enforcement. After deducting these amounts and several other program ear@ marks, the remaining $424 million Will be available for cities and towns and other local entities.

Q. What em these funds be used for?

A. Funds can be used to establish crime prevention programs involving cooperation between community residents and law enforcement personnel to control, detect, or investigate crimes or prosecute criminals. Funds also can be used to establish or support drug courts and establish multi-jurisdictional, integovernmental task forces to prevent and control crime, which may be especially beneficial in rural areas.

Funds can be used to hire and train additional law enforcement officers and support personnel. Funds can be used to pay overtime for officers and support personnel, purchase law enforcement equipment and technology, and improve security at schools and other facilities. Finally, cities and towns may use funds for enhancing the adjudication and processing of cases involving violent offenders, including juveniles.

Q. What is the local match?

A. The block grant requires a local match requirement of 10 percent.

Q. What uses of these funds are prohibited?

A. These funds cannot be used to supplant state or local funds or to cover the cost of the local match requirement of the COPS program or any other federal grant program.

Funds cannot be used to purchase, lease, rent or otherwise acquire tanks or armored vehicles, airplanes, limousines, real estate, yachts, consultants, or any vehicle not primarily used for law enforcement. However, this prohibition may be waived if the Attorney General certifies that extraordinary and critical circumstances exist that make the use of funds for such purposes essential to maintain public safety.

Q. Who is eligible to receive a grant?

A. All cities, townships, counties, states, territories, and Indian tribes and Alaskan Native villages that carry out substantial governmental duties and powers are eligible to receive grant funds under this program.

Q. What is the grant period?

A. Cities and towns will have two years after receiving an award to spend the funds.

Q. What is the application process?

A. To qualify for a grant, a locality must submit an application to BJA. The application is expected to be only one page in length and will available by mail and electronically.

First, cities must establish a local advisory board that includes representatives from the sheriffs department, the prosecutor's office, the court system, the public school system, and a local nonprofit, educational, religious, or community group active in crime prevention or drug use prevention to treatment. …