Finding Funds for Your Equipment, Programs and People (Part 2 of 2)

Although grants often are the funding sources campuses first consider, alternative resources are available if school, university and hospital law enforcement agencies know where to look. Community partnerships, equipment donations, fees, asset forfeitures and the repurposing of budgets are just some of the other ways they can support their institutions, departments and goals.

Published: December 31, 2006

Last issue, Campus Safety discussed how campus police and public safety departments can obtain grants. Often, however, some don’t qualify for this type of funding or just don’t have the time, personnel or money needed to develop good proposals. Other institutions that do jump through all of the hoops and obtain grants must still find matching funds or the type of “soft money” needed to continue a program after the grant money is spent.

Fortunately, in addition to grants, there are many ways campuses can pay for their security and safety improvements. Campus law enforcement departments that are creative and diligent, and develop good working relationships with various departments and stakeholders on campus and in their surrounding communities will be better prepared to take advantage of the opportunities available.

Consider Combining Department Budgets

Campus law enforcement agencies that work with other on-campus departments often discover they can achieve more and be more efficient when they merge their funds. For example, when applied separately, campus police/public safety and IT department budgets generally don’t have enough money to adequately implement or support upgraded video surveillance, access control or other IP-based security solutions. If they pool their resources, however, they can more successfully embark on these improvements.

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The same can be said for human resources departments, particularly regarding visitor management technology. Often, improved security can be achieved when an HR department upgrades its equipment. Therefore, it is important to maintain communications with HR personnel.

Collaborating With Businesses Sometimes Pays

Partnerships with local companies are other excellent sources of funding. If a university or hospital is a major employer and contributor to the area’s economy, the likelihood that businesses will want to partner with it are even greater. This is true particularly if the campus can provide some marketing exposure or other benefit to the business making the donation.

The University of Portland (Ore.) has successfully taken this approach. “We have a local bank that actually wants to donate the money for our smart cards,” says Harold Burke-Sivers, director of public safety for the institution. “In return, it can put its logo on the card, and students can use it as a debit card.”

Working with local politicians and other agencies can also pay significant dividends. The Los Angeles School Police Department (LASPD), for example, worked with other law enforcement departments and a Los Angeles City Council member to obtain 14 motorcycles. Although the motorcycles each had a selling price of $20,300, LASPD was able to purchase them for a total of only $14.

On-campus organizations can also provide resources. At the University of Central Florida, one fraternity bought a drug detection dog for the campus police department. “That got them brownie points from their perspective,” says Charlie Mesloh, Ph.D., who is now the director of the weapons and equipment research institute at Florida Gulf Coast University. “Here was a fraternity basically saying, ‘We’re supporting your drug reduction efforts.'”

The donation also had another, less tangible but still valuable benefit: “That really took care of any problems we had with the student body saying they didn’t want a drug dog on campus,” says Mesloh. “It was hard for them to say that when a fraternity bought it for us.”

Fees Can Fully or Partially Offset Costs

Charging fees can sometimes help bridge a budget gap. At Arizona State University (ASU), for example, its board of regents approved a $25 fee for each Sun Card issued to students, visitors or contractors. This helped pay for ASU’s new access control system.

At the University of Portland, the school was able to fund upgrades to the food service point of sale system by increasing meal plan fees.

Bibb County schools used processing fees paid by cell phone and pager policy violators to support its police programs. “We were seizing all of these phones and pagers, and the parents had to come and get them,” says Michael Dorn, former chief of police for the K-12 school district. “We started charging a $25 processing fee. You had to come with paperwork and prove it was your device. You had to pay with cash or money order to retrieve the item.”

In addition to raising quite a bit of revenue for the police department, the processing fee reduced the number of cell phone and pager violations at Bibb County schools.

This type of fee or fine, of course, may be controversial and should be approved by the courts and administration or school board before being implemented. For the other fees described above, public safety departments must work with internal and external stakeholders to determine the viability of such programs.

Be Creative When Looking for Funding

Although campus law enforcement agencies tend to focus on their direct budgets, some schools and universities have discovered creative, albeit less obvious ways to supplement their revenue streams.

For example, while Dorn was a lieutenant for Mercer University, a private Baptist college located in Macon, Ga., the police chief of his department made arrangements allowing the school’s law enforcement agency to supply police services to two nearby private colleges. “Not only did it bring in revenue for the University, it helped offset costs for the police department,” says Dorn. “We hired additional officers, which meant we had a great pool [of employees].”

Dorn is also a proponent of asset forfeiture. Although this method can be controversial, when politically feasible and authorized by the courts and stakeholders, it can be effective in increasing police budgets as well as removing the resources that support criminal behavior. This approach can work particularly well when a district or campus is located in an area with a high rate of gang and drug activity.

1033 Program Can Provide Surplus Supplies

When a campus police department needs to obtain equipment, it normally looks to purchase new items. Military surplus and contractors via the 1033 program, however, can be excellent sources of used equipment.

The 1033 program (formerly the 1208 program) permits the secretary of defense to transfer excess U.S. Department of Defense personal property (supplies and equipment) to state and local law enforcement agencies. Anything from used grenade launchers (for the deployment of less lethal weapons) to trucks to boats to storage units may be available for a significantly reduced cost.

According to Meslow, when participating in this program and others like it, campus police/security personnel must develop good working relationships with the local defense contractors and surplus suppliers.

“It is very important to find out who is the liaison between the agencies and the state and federal government,” he says. “Sometimes you can work with the agencies that are processing the property so you know what’s going out in advance. It’s very competitive, and there is a pecking order. Federal agencies obviously are going to have first dibs on these things, but if you can get yours in first, you’ve got a shot.”

Financing Can Rectify Budget Timing Issues

Even if a campus does have an adequate budget for safety and security upgrades, there may be a delay in the availability of those funds. When this occurs, financing can come in handy. Companies like Ingersoll Rand (IR) and GE have financing and/or leasing options available for campuses.”IR Financial Solutions can do seasonal financing,” says Brian Smith, IR’s regional director for the education vertical market. “A lot of colleges and universities are money rich two or three times a year, and leases can be structured to take advantage of that.”

Financing is also an option when the piecemeal installation of new security equipment is not appropriate. “If you look at a typical college campus, it may have five or six residence halls,” says Smith. “They try to phase in things, but how do you tell halls
3, 4 and 5 ‘We’re sorry. We don’t have enough funding to protect you this year. We’ll get to you next year, but we’re going to do 1 and 2 this year.’?”With the nature of crime, if one hall is protected and another is not, and you’re a criminal intending to do harm, obviously, you’re going to go to the hall that is not protected,” adds Smith. He also believes that when installation is done in a piecemeal fashion, a campus may increase its exposure to lawsuits.

Persistence, Creativity and Hard Work Pay Dividends

Even if a campus cannot take advantage of any of these opportunities, departments with dedicated personnel can make use of free resources. For example, on the Department of Education’s Web site ( is information on what should be addressed in a good emergency crisis plan. Any campus community can go to that Web site and start working on a disaster plan without any grant money or outside funding.

More than anything, however, persistence and hard work are critical. A campus police/public safety department that is willing to be creative and do the footwork to find funding will most likely be rewarded, whether it be through grants, business partnerships, fees or any other unconventional method. And campuses that blend all of these opportunities have even greater chances for success.

Robin Hattersley Gray is executive editor of Campus Safety Magazine and can be reached at

The abridged version of part 1 of this article can be viewed at Finding Funds for Your Equipment Programs and People (Part 1 of 2).

For the unabridged version of this article, please refer to the January/February 2007 issue of Campus Safety Magazine. To subscribe, go to

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Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series