Stimulus Bill Revives Key Law Enforcement Grants, Funds Firefighters

Federal grant money for border, port, transportation security and wildfire mitigation also included.

by / February 18, 2009

When President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he, in effect, awarded state and local public safety agencies with at least $4 billion and possibly more than $13 billion, reviving two law enforcement grant programs that were previously cut, according to a report by Galain Solutions.

The act restores $4 billion in U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) grants for law enforcement that had been cut during the previous administration. It also contains the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. This $53.6 billion fund is included to help state and local governments fund education and other key services, including public safety. Governors can choose to spend 18.2 percent, or $8.8 billion, of their Stabilization Fund allotment on public safety and/or other key government services. Public safety agencies may have to compete with other government services for a piece of this fund.

The act provides an additional $1 billion for checked baggage and checkpoint explosives detection machines; $730 million on border and port security; $150 million on public transportation and railroad security; $500 million for wildfire mitigation; and $210 million in firefighter assistance grants for building new facilities or modernizing older ones.

The act revives the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Grant Program (Byrne Grants) and the Community Oriented Policing Services Grant Program (COPS). Funds for these grants were shifted to Department of Homeland Security grants during the Bush administration.

The Byrne Grants can be spent on planning, evaluation and technology improvement programs, among other things. COPS grants can be used to hire more officers; purchase technology and weapons; and for training.

According to a DOJ press release, the bill includes the following law enforcement grants:

  • $1 billion to fund local police officers through Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. These grants will fund an estimated 5,500 local police officers through the COPS Hiring Recovery Program.
  • $2 billion in the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program through the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) to fund grants for state and local programs that combat crime. The Byrne JAG program is distributed by formula -- 60 percent to the states and 40 percent to local law enforcement efforts.
  • Resources from the Office on Violence Against Women for programs that help our most vulnerable populations -- $225 million in Violence Against Women Act Grants. Also provides $100 million through OJP for grants to assist victims of crime, $225 million for tribal law enforcement assistance, and $50 million for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces.
  • An additional $390 million from OJP for local law enforcement assistance, including $225 million in competitive Byrne Grants, $125 million targeted for rural areas, and $40 million for the Southern border (including $10 million for ATF's Project Gunrunner).