In a move to help increase law enforcement accountability, the Department of Justice (DoJ) announced that the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is releasing $7.65 million in a competitive microgrant grant solicitation that will fund body-worn cameras (BWCs) to any law enforcement department with 50 or fewer full-time sworn personnel, rural agencies, and Federally-recognized Tribal agencies.

“The Justice Department is committed to providing law enforcement with valuable resources to increase accountability and build trust with the communities they serve,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “Today we encourage all small, rural, and Tribal law enforcement agencies to apply for funding for this important tool that will enhance protection for both officers and citizens.”

The DoJ-provided funding must be used to purchase or lease body-worn cameras, and may include expenses reasonably related to BWC program implementation. The DoJ explained that the funding can be used to support pilot BWC programs, establish new BWC implementation, or expand existing programs. All applications are due by August 31, 2021.

“The grant solicitation today will help law enforcement agencies and their communities improve evidentiary outcomes, and enhance the safety of, and improve interactions between, officers and the public,” said BJA Acting Director Kristen Mahoney. “Importantly, this grant program will make it easier for small, rural, and Tribal law enforcement agencies to apply for funding. It’s an online application that will streamline the grant process for these agencies.”

The DoJ noted that this solicitation follows a recent memo from Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco to the agency’s law enforcement components. The memo directs the law enforcement components to develop and submit for review their plans for BWC policies that require agents to wear and activate BWC recording equipment for purposes of recording their actions during pre-planned attempts to serve arrest warrants, other pre-planned arrests, or the execution of a search or seizure warrant or order. A statement from the DoJ said that Monaco will work with the department’s law enforcement components in the coming weeks to review their policies and finalize implementation plans.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs