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Well-Funded: A Reorientation of Public Safety Grants for a Safer Homeland

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Master's Thesis]

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Extraneous and even misused equipment amassed by local first response agencies has been made possible through federal grants and resources with little oversight and insufficient governing mechanisms. Acquisitions, particularly of tactical gear, have far outpaced the development of best practices and guidance for proper use of such government resources. The relative ease in purchasing these items has led to far-reaching implications for public safety leadership and the public, particularly police militarization. This thesis examines how gaps in oversight, transparency, and performance measurement in the delivery of federal grants and resources to public safety organizations have contributed to unintended uses. It analyzes original grant language, available case studies of grant misuse, and academic research, as well as peer-reviewed documents and scholarly commentary to understand the multi-level political strategies that grants-in-aid facilitate. This thesis ultimately recommends that communities should determine how public safety is serving them in ways that matter to them. This measure is vital if the grant system is to see any real regulation, structure, and oversight. This thesis finds that greater public engagement throughout the grant and acquisition process adds the missing layer of accountability at the local level - weighing in on, authorizing, and defining the parameters of use and informing future grant awards and allocations.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Government and Political Science

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]