Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

It has been a while since my department has applied for a grant, what is a UEI and how do I get one?

A UEI, or unique entity identifier, is a number assigned to all public entities, including law enforcement agencies or your jurisdiction. A UEI is required to do any business with the federal government, and it is required to apply for federal grants. The UEI replaced the DUNS number requirement in 2022, and you can apply for one at

Where do I find grants that are available to my law enforcement agency?

For federal grants, all opportunities will be listed at The website just got an overhaul, however, it still allows for filtering on numerous categories and to use a keyword search. Most grants for law enforcement agencies will be released by the Office of Community-Oriented Policing, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the National Institute of Justice, or the Department of Homeland Security. However, do not limit your search to these entities, as it is not unhear of for other government agency to offer grants to law enforcement.

Where do I need to be registered in order to apply for federal grants?

To apply for federal grants, you need to register with,, and is a secure sign-in service that will allow you to access to participating government agencies, including those related to grants. is where you will submit some basic forms, including a SF-424 and an SF-LLL. Once these forms are submitted, application information will be transmitted to, where you will upload and/or complete the remaining portion of your grant application.

What is an SF-424?

An SF-424 is a cover sheet for applications for federal assistance. You will be required to fill in your entity’s basic information and information related to the grant program you are applying to.

What is an SF-LLL?

An SF-LLL is disclosure of lobbying activities form. If activities that have been secured to influence the outcome of a federal action have been undertaken, you will have to disclose them on this form.

Why are there two deadlines listed on federal grant announcements?

In order to apply for federal grants, you will have to adhere to two different deadlines. The first is the deadline to submit the SF-424 and SF-LLL to This is most often the first deadline listed. The second deadline is the date that you must submit your application materials to

Does my department need to be accredited to receive federal grants?

No, departments do not need to be accredited to receive federal grant funding. In 2020, President Trump issued executive order 13929, Safe Policing for Safe Communities. This executive order requires that police agencies be certified by an independent credentialing agency. In order to meet the credential requirements, police departments must meet two standards: (1) the agency’s use of force policy must prohibit chokeholds, except in situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law, and (2) the agency’s use of force policies adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local laws. In order to apply for grant funds you must be credentialed, or you must have begun the credentialing process. You can view your states credentialing body so that you can start the process here.

My department is applying for a federal grant with another entity. How do we apply together?

Many federal grants allow or encourage multiple entities to partner and apply for funding. However, only one entity will be the main applicant. If the other entity or entities have been budgeting money in your grant application, they will be subrecipients. In other words, the main applicant will receive the funding and the subrecipient will provide the funding to other entities as a subaward.

Do I need to repay grant funds?

No, grants are not loans and they do not require repayment.

Can I use grant funds to pay off debts already incurred by my department?

No, grants cannot be used to pay off current debt.

What is the difference between a competitive grant and a formula grant?

A competitive grant involves an application process where your submission is judged alongside other applicant’s submissions. In other words, you are competing against other agencies. A formula grant allocates grant funding based on a given formula, most often one involving the amount of crime that your jurisdiction experienced and the size of the population that you serve. For formula grants, the amount that you are allocated is typically distributed to you as long as you apply for the funds. You are not competing against other entities for formula grants.

What is the difference between direct and pass through funding?

Direct funding is money that your department will receive to carry out the activities included in your application directly. Pass through funding is federal grant money that is provided to your state. Your state will then decide how to distribute that money to agencies, be it through a competitive grant process or through some formula or executive decision. For pass through funding that is provided to your state from the federal government, you will apply through your state for the funds.

What is the difference between public sector and private sector grants?

Public sector grants are offered by public sector grantors, such as local, state and federal government entities. Private sector grants are offered by foundations or corporate grantors. Many corporations have philanthropic wings that offer grant opportunities in line with their priorities. These priorities change from time-to-time, but corporations such as Walmart and Target have offered grant opportunities for public safety in the past.

Where do I find out about law enforcement grant opportunities from my state?

There is variation across states, but there is usually a state-agency that is responsible for administering grant funds. You will have to google around to find out what agency that is for your state. As an example, in the state of New Jersey, the Attorney General is responsible for providing most grant funding.

Are grants just free money?

There are very few grants that come with no strings attached. Grant funding is used to carry out the activities that you proposed in your application. If your department receives grant money, you will often be required to provide interim reports, data, and a final report to the funding agency that details the activities that your department carried out.

My department has no experience with grants. There is a general grant writing course coming to my area. Should I attend?

Do your homework. A lot of the grant writing training that is available is general in nature. In other words, you will be sitting in a room with non-profit employees, small business employees, fire fighters, EMS, professors, teachers, and individuals from a whole bunch of other sectors. A lot of what will be presented in these courses will not be applicable to you as a law enforcement agency. Law enforcement grants are unique in many ways, and a grant writing training specific to law enforcement will be more relevant. You will also not waste your departments time and money learning about grant writing for other sectors. Leo-network endorses Law Enforcement Grant Writing 101 offered by Police Grant Writing LLC as a preferrable option as it is specific to law enforcement grant writing.

Should my department hire a grant writer?

In truth, with a little bit of practice, your department can apply for grants on your own, and hiring a grant writer is not required. If your department is certain that you want to hire a grant writer, do your homework. The grant writing industry is largely un-regulated, and anyone can claim to be a grant writer. Further, freelance grant writers rarely have an understanding of even the basics about law enforcement agencies. It is better practice to invest in an internal employee that will take on grant writing. This will save your department money and you will be able to apply for more grants without taking on costs related to hiring a grant writer.

My department is very small. Can we realistically win grants?

Yes, small departments can win grant money. In fact, several law enforcement related funding opportunities give priority to small agencies.

My jurisdiction does not experience a lot of crime. Can we realistically win grants?

Yes, your department can win grant money. Steer clear of applying for grants that are specifically intended to reduce serious violent crime, but there are plenty of other opportunities that your department can apply for.

I do not consider myself a strong writer. Should I even bother applying for grants for my department?

Yes, you should. You do not need an English degree or a Ph.D. to a successful grant writer. In fact, simple language and straightforward writing is preferrable in grant applications. Have someone proofread your application, but don’t be turned off because you are not a trained technical writer. It is not required.

My department has applied for grants in the past, but we never get them. What are we doing wrong?

First, don’t stop applying. Recognize that the average outcome when applying for a grant is that you will not receive it. Grants are competitive, but the only way to win grant funding is to keep applying. Sharpen your skills by reading other grant applications and by looking at what is getting funded. Many funding agencies will provide information about who has won awards, and they will sometimes post winning applications. A good way to sharpen your skills is to read successful grant applications. Spending the time writing a grant application, only to be denied, can be discouraging. But keep at it.

Who decides what grant applications will be funded?

This will vary depending upon the grant that you are applying to, but most often grant reviewers will be a mix of law enforcement practitioners or experts in the area, such as criminal justice professors.

How are grant applications evaluated?

This also varies by grant, but most often, each section of an application will be assigned a certain number of points. Grant reviewers will read each section of your application and assign a value that is dependent upon how strong the section was. Each grant application will then get an overall score. Grant reviewers will then convene to discuss the highest scored applications and they will ultimately make recommendations to the funding agency regarding what applications should be funded.

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