Equipment ranging from cars to bulletproof vests are needed by police departments to keep their officers safe and able to do their jobs effectively. However, many of these purchases come with large price tags. Police departments in small communities are often at an added disadvantaged because they have fewer resources available. Government and private organizations at local, state and national levels provide grants to police departments to help them buy what they need.

Justice Assistance Grants

As of 2011, Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants are the largest source of federal funding for state and local police departments and other law agencies, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance. The grants, named in honor of a police officer killed on the job, cover an array of basic expenses for police departments, criminal courts, drug rehabilitation centers and other areas of the justice system. States and territories receive grants from the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Grant sizes depend on recipients’ populations and crime rates. States and territories then funnel funding to local departments in their jurisdictions.

Rural Emergency Responders Initiative

Police departments in rural communities of 20,000 people or fewer can pay for equipment and services with money from the USDA’s Community Facilities Grants program. The program includes the Rural Emergency Responders Initiative, which earmarks money for equipment and services. The grants are available to police departments, fire departments, hospitals, civil defense agencies and other organizations involved with public health and safety. The main Community Facilities Grants program covers costs for constructing or renovating public buildings. Eligible applicants, which include government offices, Native American tribes and nonprofits, can apply by contacting their local Rural Development offices.

NTOA Grants

SWAT teams that are members of the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) can apply for grants from the association to buy protective equipment. Grants cover body armor, Tasers and other gear that protects officers’ lives. NTOA says it reviews applications for details such as applications’ completeness, statistical data for departments’ operations and SWAT team sizes compared to their police departments’ sizes and their communities’ populations.

State and Local Grants

Police departments can search for grants closer to home, as well. Many government agencies and private organizations provide financial assistance to police departments within certain boundaries. Law enforcement agencies can try contacting state criminal justice agencies to learn what funding may be available to them. In Maryland, for example, the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention uses federal funding to administer grants for forensic crime labs and medical examiner offices to buy equipment and improve basic functions.

Other programs have much more specific criteria. For instance, police departments can apply for funding from The Jesse and Rose Loeb Foundation in Warrenton, Virginia. However, eligible applicants may only be from Fauquier, Culpeper, Rappahannock, Loudon, Stafford and Prince William counties.