Washington D.C. – Law Officer has confirmed through several sources within law enforcement agencies across the country that grant funding to local law enforcement has been placed on hold by the Department of Justice. The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program is the most common form of funding that local law enforcement utilizes each year and is typically used for additional personnel, equipment, and training. The Bulletproof Vest Partnership is also widely used and was created in 1998 to provide funding for 50% of ballistic vest replacements for law enforcement.
Law Enforcement Executives have reached out to us and they have been told by DOJ Representatives that all grants are “on hold” as the Biden Administration reviews the requirements. It isn’t the first time that law enforcement has endured a change to the grant process. Under President Obama, equipment such as ballistic helmets and shields were prohibited by grant funding.
While the DOJ has not issued any specifics, the George Floyd Police Reform Bill is expected to be passed by the Senate and has provisions to prohibit grant funding to local agencies if they do not comply with the use of force and body camera standards in the bill.
Current language in the legislation calls for the use of deadly force only when “necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury” as a “last resort.” Currently, law enforcement predominantly adheres to the United States Supreme Court Standard under Graham v. Connor (1989) that says any use of force by law enforcement must use the Fourth Amendment’s “Reasonableness” standard.
In 2011, restrictions by the DOJ were given to law enforcement prior to agencies receiving funding for ballistic vests. In order for the DOJ to provide funding, departments had to agree to a “mandatory wear” policy and a sample policy was provided to the agencies receiving funds.
It is unknown whether any imposed standards on body cameras or use of force will come with a mandatory policy, but one thing is for sure, any grants received under the Biden Administration will come with specific policy language requirements.