Billion Dollar COPS Technology Grant Program Dies

Author: IPVM Team, Published on Aug 01, 2013

Grants seem to power almost every public surveillance system deployed in the past decade. Need a hundred thousand? No problem. Get a government grant. But now one of the most well-known programs is over. We talked to the U.S. Department of Justice about what happened to the COPS Technology Grant program and other grants being used to fund surveillance in its absence.

Funding Gone

The last grants for the the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) technology program have been cleared and the program is officially over, at least until a lawmaker decides it is worth funding again.

The program, provided more than $2.8 billion in grants, to more than 1,400 agencies to upgrade their technology since around 2001. “This was one of our stronger programs and it covered a broad range of requests,” says COPS spokesman Corey Ray.

The Numbers

According to data provided by the Department of Justice to IPVM, the technology program consistently received millions more dollars than any other COPS offering. At its peak in 2008, it disbursed more than $205 million to law enforcement agencies for technology. By 2011, the amount would drop to around $1 million then disappear completely. The last awards went out at the end of 2011, most of the money has been spent, and the agencies have been audited to make sure it was spent appropriately.

Funding for the program was up and down, but averaged around ~$145 million annually until 2008, according to Justice Department documents. Funding peaked in 2008, and it was downhill from there. 

  • $205 million in 2008
  • $187 million in 2009 
  • $170 million in 2010
  • $1.2 million in 2011
  • None for 2012-2013

Before 2000, the COPS program was most known for funding law enforcement agencies to hire new personnel and that had been the program's main focus. It also provides a grant for Native American tribes to hire officers and purchase technology and a grant for police training.

After 2000, agencies were adequately staffed, but communications and technology equipment was lacking. The money the agencies were spending on technology rapidly increased. The COPS technology grant was earmarked into legislation to help agencies catch up.

“Agencies were using it for anything from interoperability to simple equipment a police officer would have in his car,” Ray said.

As the grant gained popularity, agencies began setting their sights on more advanced technology like surveillance systems, ShotSpotter and license plate recognition, Ray says. Below is a video produced by a Maryland town on surveillance technology purchased with a COPS Technology Grant:

But the end of earmarks was the end of the program.

Funding for COPS grants to hire and train officers is ongoing, but funding for technology grants were earmarked so “that money disappeared. And no lawmakers have tried to reintroduce it or get it funded,” Ray said. “We haven’t seen that revenue come back. Law enforcement agencies are always interested in hiring new personnel, but now at the same time there is a demand for new technology. If there was an interested member of Congress, someone that saw the need or had been approached by law enforcement, if someone proposed funding for another technology program then we would maybe see this opportunity return.”

The Future of Surveillance Grants

There are other possibilities for agencies to get COPS funding for technology, however. COPS had a school safety grant program that provides funding for technology items related to securing schools. Surveillance systems in schools became a very popular item in the wake of highly publicized school shootings, he said.  

Now, “for the agencies still interested in surveillance, we’d tell them to partner with schools because there was still money in our schools programs to get that.” Additionally a $150 million comprehensive school safety program has been proposed. These grants would go toward anything related to school safety. 

The DOJ is cataloging and creating a database to search COPS applications by the type of technology grants were applied for and used to purchase. 

1 report cite this report:

Anti-Terrorism Video Surveillance Bad at Fighting Crime on May 16, 2016
So much of city video surveillance has been deployed and funded with the intention of stopping, or at least mitigating, terrorist attacks. But...
Comments (14): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Funding

ShotSpotter To IPO, Facing Low Revenue and Losses on May 17, 2017
A rare event for North American security manufacturers is upcoming. ShotSpotter is planning to IPO on the NASDAQ, aiming to raise $34.5...
Knightscope ~$400,000 2016 Revenue, $4+ Million Loss Seeks $20 Million Investment on Dec 09, 2016
The robot that ran over a child, Knightscope, wants money and they need it. Investors can invest as little as $1,000 to participate and...
$38+ Million Funding Powers VMS Challenger IronYun on Nov 09, 2016
VMS and video analytics have received little funding this decade. However, one Taiwan startup, IronYun, has bucked this trend, with a relatively...
The Dumbest Investment Campaign - Knightscope on Oct 12, 2016
IPVM has seen many strange investments over the years. Who can forget how BRS Labs burned ~$100 million of mom and pop investments in their...
Hikvision $6 Billion: Doubles Chinese Government Funding on Aug 18, 2016
Hikvision has announced a new $3+ billion line of credit, in addition to the previous $3+ billion one from December 2015. This new one is from...
You Can Invest In The Silicon Valley Robot Mini-IPO on Aug 16, 2016
Do you want own a part of the robot future? Now, you can. After gaining international fame with their robot runs over child debacle, Knightscope...
Silicon Valley Startup Density Launches People Counting As A Service on Aug 09, 2016
A Silicon Valley startup says their people counting sensor is so accurate it's free, just pay for the data. They recently raised $4M from a top VC...
Anti-Terrorism Video Surveillance Bad at Fighting Crime on May 16, 2016
So much of city video surveillance has been deployed and funded with the intention of stopping, or at least mitigating, terrorist attacks. But...
Vidsys Hangs On, Gets $11M New Funding on May 16, 2016
The founder of Vidsys claims to have invented the term "PSIM" in 2005, and for some time, many thought that PSIM was going to be the new VMS. Over...
Mark Cuban Funded Analytics Company Shifts Away From Security on May 10, 2016
In early 2015 Mark Cuban has funded a video analytics company, Netra, after the founder cold-emailed him. Now the company has shifted away from...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Anti-Hack Access Card Shields Tested on May 26, 2017
Keeping your access control card information secure is becoming a big priority, especially since cheaper copiers can hack details easily. Multiple...
H.265 / HEVC Codec Tutorial 2017 on May 25, 2017
Since 2013, video surveillance professionals have talked about the potential for H.265. Now, in 2017, H.265 is starting to gain mainstream...
Camera Course Summer 2017 on May 25, 2017
Learn video surveillance and get certified. IPVM provides live online classes, recorded videos, personal help, cutting edge education and...
Most Respected Manufacturer Competitors on May 25, 2017
Manufacturers told IPVM what competitor they most respected. In terms of total revenue, Hikvision, Dahua and Axis are certainly tops but would...
CyPhy 'Unlimited' Flight Time Security Drone Examined on May 25, 2017
Drones face several issues as commercial security platforms - legal restrictions (e.g., in the US, the FAA), costs, and limited flight durations...
Milestone Entry Level Mobile Password Vulnerability Disclosed on May 24, 2017
While many manufacturers have only addressed cybersecurity vulnerabilities after public disclosures were made (or threatened), Milestone has...
How Integrators Use IPVM on May 24, 2017
150 integrators explained how they use IPVM and how it helps them stay informed and improve their business.  The 4 main uses integrators cited for...
Alarm Supervision Guide on May 24, 2017
Burglar alarms can constantly monitor the health of attached circuits, sensors, and devices to ensure that they remain operational. This is known...
Arlo Go Cellular Cloud Camera Tested on May 23, 2017
Totally wireless surveillance cameras are growing but almost all typically depend on a hub and local Internet access. However, many outdoor...
Avigilon New COO James Henderson Profile on May 23, 2017
It has been nearly 2 years since the infamous Bryan Schmode 'resigned' as Avigilon COO. Now, Avigilon once again has a COO, promoting James...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact