Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker announced on November 21 that over $56 million in grant funding was awarded last month through the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) to enhance state, local, and tribal law enforcement safety and wellness. OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and National Institute of Justice awarded grants to law enforcement departments, local jurisdictions, and training, technical assistance and research organizations throughout the United States. The funds will be used to provide services designed to protect officers and improve overall public safety.
“In the Trump administration, we back the blue,” Acting Attorney General Whitaker said. “One of President Trump’s first Executive Orders was to tell this Department to enhance the safety of America’s law enforcement officers, and that is exactly what these grants will do. We are providing them with bulletproof vests, body-worn cameras, training, and health and safety research. These grants awarded last month are helping us to take care of the men and women in blue, because they take care of us every day.”
The FBI’s official crime data for 2017 reflects that, after two consecutive increases in violent crime, in the first year of the Trump Administration the nationwide violent crime rate began to decline. Despite this decline, violent attacks on police officers are on the rise. More than 60,000 line-of-duty assaults were committed against officers in 2017, a five percent increase from 2016, according to the FBI.
The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring officer safety. Over the past year, the Department has partnered with all levels of law enforcement, local organizations, and members of the community to reduce violent crime and make American neighborhoods safer, including the invigoration of Project Safe Neighborhoods and announcement of $30 million to help combat violent crime. Recently, the Department hosted a law enforcement roundtable and announced funds and technical assistance resources to help law enforcement investigate and prosecute hate crimes, and announced a new active shooter training grant to provide multi-disciplinary, scenario-based active shooter training to help better protect and equip first responders across the country.
More than $29.8 million will reimburse jurisdictions for up to 50 percent of the cost of body armor vests purchased for law enforcement officers; $12 million will support law enforcement safety and wellness programs, research and services; and $12.2 million will support the implementation of law enforcement agencies’ body-worn camera programs.
In addition, over $2 million is addressing safety, health and wellness priorities through research and evaluation. These investments include the development of ballistic vests, studies of in-vehicle safety, and the evaluation of less-lethal technologies to increase police and public safety.