The Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, recently made national headlines for an announcement about providing $1 million dollars in federal funding to Virginia law enforcement agencies to help upgrade their technology and enhance officer training.
The assistance comes via the U.S. Justice Department’s Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, and couldn’t come at a better time for the state’s cash-strapped law enforcement agencies, who, like other agencies nationwide, are faced with declining budgets that hamper their ability to provide much-needed training. These funding shortfalls jeopardize the lives of police officers and also put members of the public at risk. Increasing the risk of exposure to costly litigation due to a lack of critical training.
Nevertheless, the news is a good reminder of the different approaches that communities and law enforcement agencies can take to procure funding for advanced technology needed for effective use of force training. St. Louis County Deputy Police Chief Kenneth Cox discussed some of these methods in a December article in the National Academy Associate, the national publication for the FBINAA. For example, St. Louis County was able to procure a VirTra V-300 system thanks to a generous grant from a local police foundation, and Cox talked about other options in the article as well.
Police departments and municipalities can join forces to collaborate on regional or multi-jurisdiction projects, which is something that is permissible in the Virginia grant solicitation that was just announced. Agencies can also work with their state governments to fund better training. In 2016 Arizona became the first state to introduce advanced simulator training as a statewide initiative when the Arizona Department of Public Safety partnered with the Arizona State Legislature to procure funds to purchase seven VirTra V-300 use of force simulators. Now agencies statewide can receive the advanced training that VirTra systems provide to help them make better decisions in use of force situations. Other funding sources for training simulators can come from federal asset forfeiture programs or special assessments on traffic tickets and other fees or fines. The state of Utah used both asset forfeiture money as well as legislative funding to purchase V-300 simulators that have helped train more than 50 agencies across the state since the systems were installed. Or even from private donors wanting to ensure their local law enforcement officers are being provided the best training possible.
Good training with the latest technology is an absolute necessity to ensure that officers who put their lives on the line are properly trained to react quickly and make good decisions in dangerous situations. VirTra is leading the way to make this possible for law enforcement agencies around the world.