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Fund Planning & Allocation

Is the purchase of body-worn cameras and non-lethal (i.e. TASER) equipment for police an eligible use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds?

There are at least two potential avenues through which funds from the ARP Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (“CLFRF”) can probably be used to pay for body-worn cameras, electroshock weapons, or other nonlethal (such as TASER) equipment for police.

First potential avenue: A municipality could assert that the COVID-19 public health emergency caused an increase in violence, and the purchase of equipment for law enforcement officers such as body worn cameras and TASERs are therefore eligible expenses.[1] Municipalities are required to demonstrate a nexus to the pandemic for purchases to qualify as eligible uses of CLFRF funds.

In communities where an increase in violence or increased difficulty in accessing or
providing services to respond to or mitigate the effects of violence, is a result of the
pandemic
they may use funds to address that harm. This spending may include:

  • Investing in technology and equipment to allow law enforcement to more efficiently
    and effectively respond to the rise in gun violence resulting from the pandemic

     

As discussed in the Interim Final Rule, uses of CSFRF/CLFRF funds that respond to an
identified harm must be related and reasonably proportional to the extent and type of
harm experienced
; uses that bear no relation or are grossly disproportionate to the type or extent of harm experienced would not be eligible uses.[2]

Another potential avenue: Municipalities may attempt to utilize the ARP’s revenue replacement provision for this purpose. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s (“Treasury”) Interim Final Rule (the “Rule”) states that “[r]ecipients may use payments from the Fiscal Recovery Funds for the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.”[3] Moreover, ‘the provision of government services’ is defined broadly by the Rule, and includes police and public safety work.[4] As such, if a municipality can establish that there was a reduction in revenue (pursuant to the revenue loss calculation formulas discussed on pages 56-61 of the Rule), the funds dedicated to revenue replacement could likely be used to pay for police equipment, including monitoring and non-lethal equipment.[5]

Current Treasury guidance identifies additional ways municipalities may use ARP funds to support public safety activities. More information on uses of ARP funds for public safety can be found in the FAQs (specifically, FAQ #4.8). Municipalities may also find the U.S. Department of Education’s June 2021 guidance, How American Rescue Plan Funds Can Prevent and Respond to Crime and Promote Public Safety, a useful resource.

Last Updated: August 17, 2021

[1] Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, Frequently Asked Questions (as of July 19, 2021) – FAQ #4.8, at 21-22, available at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRPFAQ.pdf.

[2] Id (emphasis added).

[3] Treas. Reg. 31 CFR 35 at 51-52, available at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/FRF-Interim-Final-Rule.pdf.

[4] Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, Frequently Asked Questions (as of July 19, 2021) – FAQ #3.8, at 15, available at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRPFAQ.pdf.

[5] Treas. Reg. 31 CFR 35 at 56-61, available at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/FRF-Interim-Final-Rule.pdf.