Know your enemy – Law Enforcement Budget Pro-Tips

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I am by no means an expert on police budgets. I have learned a thing or two that might be relevant to guys in my region only since most PD’s seem to have the same general budgeting system. What follows is just some things that I have done to increase revenue so I can buy the men more training and better equipment. It is meant as a discussion so we can all improve on getting that salad.

1. If you dont know shit about how your Chief/Sheriff splits up the loot, learn it! You have to understand how the money is allocated if you are to be successful in getting it. A good way for this to happen is to ask command level officers to teach you about budget process so you can better prepare to be a LT/CPT/MAJ/Deputy Chief or whatever. You will be surprised how much you can garner and also make them your advocate.

2. Once you have a good grasp and you’ve made a new friend in the command ranks that is mentoring you to be just like them, ask them how THEY would go about getting money for the new Phase Plasma Rifles. They will usually give you a road map and unbeknownst to them, they will become invested in the purchase. The when its discussed at the Gold Star table, they will argue FOR your purchase instead of against or just sit there ambivalent. (Caution – recognize this when you are the victim as well)

3. Risk management has a pot of unused money. Their purpose is to limit liability to the organization. Craft your argument in such a way that the purchase of whatever is really meant to limit liability exposure. Obviously building a relationship first is key to success. I call our RM every time we damage shit to give him a heads up. He has ridden in the Bearcat on ops. In short, I have worked hard to make him an advocate, and that loosens the purse strings. Half our lasers, half our suppressors and IFAK+Medical Training for 100 officers were paid for by risk management.

4. Scan the budget and look for unusual items that have a good chuck of dough. Talk to the finance lady and inquire what lines rarely get used. Once identified, can that line be applied to something you need, leaving your other money for other things. Example – The PD has a “Small Tools & Equipment” line that is $8K. I asked what’s this for and was told anything that would be considered small tools and equipment. I bought $2500 worht of steel targets with that money. The requisiton still had to be approved, but the line item was already ID’d and went through without a hiccup. Small equipment could be damn near anything.

5. Get to know the finance lady (or dude) and just ask how they reconcile at years end. No PD can properly forecast overtime costs. So other liines are inflated so an agency head can shift money to help cover other lines that are known over spenders. Inquire which of those inflated lines are fat, what are they to be used for and it might open a funding source for an item that you would normally buy out of team lines. This saves you money.

6. Sell that brass. If you arent collecting and selling brass, you are missing out on a HUGE funding source. All of this needs to be on the up & up. We currently have vendors of various police supply stores that afford us an in store credit account. The brass guy comes and weighs our brass, gives us fair market value of the brass, and then cuts a check to the store we dictate. We give the store the check and they give us that much in store credit. NO CASH GETS EXCHANGED. The credit amount is reported to finance, and when we burn some of that credit a detailed receipt goes to finance as well. They maintain a records of ALL credits and debits. Becasue it’s “free” money and can only be spent in the stores we have dictated, the funding stream is damn near guaranteed.

7. Surplus gear that can be sold, should be sold. Lots of places will take boxes of stuff that you would throw in the dumpster and credit you. Same process as above, everything above board and documented. An old handcuff case that is scuffed might be only worth $1. Send in 100 of them and 100 of every other kind of pouch and that shit adds up.

 

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Bill Blowers
Bill Blowers has been a police officer for over 20 years, prior to that he was in the US Army for six years. Bill is currently a Sergeant for a Municipal Agency in Washington State. He is assigned to his agencies training unit and is also a team leader on a large and active regional SWAT team. He has been assigned to SWAT since 1995 and has held positions such as Sniper, Ballistic Shield Carrier, Entry Team Member, and Assistant Team Leader. He has planned, or participated in, over 1000 missions and has in excess of 5000 documented training hours.

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