Advice on 2018 Local and State Justice Assistance Grants

The FY 18 Justice Assistance Grants focus on officer safety, violent crime, border security and collaboration and partnerships.

The Federal application period for the annual state and local Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) has just opened with an application deadline of August 22, 2018.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) will make up to 1,147 awards to local jurisdictions totaling an estimated $84.5 million.

An additional 56 awards will be made to states and U.S. territories totaling nearly $176.8 million.

What Applicants Need to Know 

JAG is the leading source of federal funding for state and local criminal justice purposes. Noncompetitive grants are allocated as block funding to all state and only certain local jurisdictions based on Part 1 crime data and population statistics.

States are required to pass through a percentage of their funding allocation to local jurisdictions and criminal justice partners — most often through the competitive application process conducted by the State Administering Agency (SAA).

Fiscal Year (FY) 18 JAG funds awarded to state and local governments can be used to cover a host of criminal justice needs including providing additional personnel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, training, technical assistance and information systems. The funds can support one or more of the following areas:

BJA’S Areas of Emphasis for FY 18

BJA is encouraging state and local applicants to focus their grant applications on addressing four areas this Federal agency will be targeting much of their resources to this year.  These areas include:

  1. Reducing Violent Crime – Recognizing that crime problems, including felonious possession and use of a firearm and/or gang violence, illegal drug sales and distribution, human trafficking and other related violent crime, vary from community to community, BJA encourages applicants to tailor their programs to the local crime issues, and to be data-informed in their work.
  2. Officer Safety and Wellness – BJA sees a vital need to focus not only on tactical officer safety concerns, but also on health and wellness and their impact on officer performance and safety. It is important for law enforcement to have the tactical skills necessary, and also be physically and mentally well, to perform, survive and be resilient in the face of the demanding duties of the profession.
  3. Border Security – BJA encourages units of local government to enhance border, waterway and port security by using JAG funds to support law enforcement hiring, training and technology enhancement, as well as cooperation and coordination among federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.
  4. Collaborative Prosecution and Law Enforcement – BJA supports strong partnerships between prosecutors and law enforcement, at all levels of government, in order to help take violent offenders off the street.
Follow the Guidelines and Understand the Requirements

Whether you are the SAA, a local jurisdiction direct recipient or may be a sub-recipient of funds passed down through the SAA, it is important that you thoroughly review the state  and local  guidelines. Not only do the guidelines detail how to structure your grant application project narrative and budget, but they also outline all of the federal requirements imposed by statute that your jurisdiction must comply in order to accept these funds.

Recently enacted federal requirements include:

  1. National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) 3 percent set aside:  With the sunsetting of the Uniform Crime Reporting system and replacement with NIBRS by 2021, agencies not yet certified by the state as NIBRS compliant must dedicate 3 percent of their JAG award toward achieving full compliance.
  2. Certifications and Assurances by the Chief Executive of the Applicant Government – including requirements on supplanting, public review and comment, and immigration policies and practices, among others.
  3. Certifications by the Chief Legal Officer of the Applicant Government – Regarding Compliance with U.S.C. Sections 1373 & 1640 prohibiting policies or practices that impede the sharing of information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about an individual’s immigration status.
  4. Information Regarding Communication with the Department of Homeland Security and/or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Understanding Uses and Qualifications 
  • Review the JAG Frequently Asked Questions document – a great resource tool for understanding the JAG Program, allowable and unallowable uses of these grant dollars and grant requirements.
  • If you don’t qualify for a direct allocation of JAG funds, reach out to your SAA now to discuss your agency resource needs and inquire how you can be part of your state’s strategic planning for these dollars.
  • Follow the grant guidelines closely and include all required certifications and attachments.
  • Submit your application by the August 22 deadline if you are one of the state or eligible local government agencies.

Learn how to apply through the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Grant Management System (GMS).

Apply through the GMS.

About the Author

Therese Matthews is a highly respected grant professional with more than 25 years of experience in grant writing, grants management and program development. Prior to her retirement in 2015, she was the Grants Manager for the New Jersey Department of Corrections and successful in obtaining over $140 million in federal, state and private grant funding for the agency. Since joining Praetorian Digital as a contracted consultant in March of 2016, Therese has been successful in writing several comprehensive grant proposals resulting in over $800,000 in grant awarded funds. These grants include awards under the Department of Justice’s Second Chance Act, Texas Body Armor Grant and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Community Facilities Program. Therese continues to volunteer her time providing fundraising and grant writing assistance to various community organizations including her local board of education, nonprofit organizations and sports booster club. She holds a Bachelors in Sociology and Criminal Justice and Masters of Public Administration from Rutgers University.

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