Federal Funding for Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement has always been the pillar of a community’s security environment. Ever since September 11, 2001, policymakers have placed a greater emphasis on information sharing among local and federal Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), especially in metropolitan areas. The goal is to prevent future catastrophic events by increasing cooperation. As a response, many LEAs such as the New York City Police Department, have broadened their operational footprint to take on security challenges in a post 9/11 climate. This new outlook has required additional training, equipment, and federal resources. Federal budgets between FY2009 and FY2014 have devoted “nearly $18 billion dollars” of federal funding to LEAs. Federal Support for Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition published by the Executive Office of the President is a review of this resource allocation. The review was conducted by a variety of personnel who interact with LEAs including “law enforcement stakeholders, civil rights stakeholders and academics.”

The review examines how existing federal programs interact with LEAs. Some of the aspects included are: “Whether federal programs

  • …provide LEAs with equipment that is appropriate to the needs of their communities,
  • …ensure that LEAs are properly trained to employ the equipment they obtain,
  • …encourage LEAs to adopt organizational and operational practices and standards that prevent misuse/abuse of the equipment.

The report designated four specific areas where LEAs could focus in order to maximize the efficiency of their departments:

  1. Local Community Engagement: The report cites the lack of public knowledge as to how LEAs acquire resources. Similarly, local elected officials do not play a consistent role in the acquisition process. This effects the relationships with the public, and “impact[s] neighboring LEAs in the event of an emergency when they do not know what resources may be nearby.”
  2. Federal Coordination and Oversight: Coordination is difficult on a federal level because each LEA is structured differently. “As a result, there may be no single entity in the federal government able to track particular pieces of equipment at any time. This lack of coordination hinders attempts to hold LEAs accountable.”
  3. Training Requirements: “Federal programs supporting the acquisition of equipment by LEAs do not include standard training requirements for operation and deployment of equipment. Members of law enforcement cited the specific concern that police chiefs and those responsible for authorizing the deployment of military-style equipment often lack proper training to understand when and how controlled equipment is most appropriately deployed.”
  4. Community Policing Model: “Some stakeholders who contributed to this review expressed concerns about an increasing trend toward militarism and militarization in United States policing, which can affect law enforcement culture, organization and operations. Some stakeholders felt that the ‘show of force’ typically associated with military operations, when employed by civilian police, can weaken community trust..”

Click here fore more information about LEAs at the Homeland Security Digital Library (some resources may require HSDL login).



Article formerly posted at https://www.hsdl.org/blog/newpost/view/federal-funding-for-law-enforcement