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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 two potential avenues through which funds from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (“CSLFRF”) can potentially be used to pay for body-worn cameras, electroshock weapons, or other non-lethal (such as TASER) equipment for police.

A.  Revenue Loss

Municipalities could likely utilize the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021’s (“ARP”) revenue replacement provision to purchase equipment for police. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s (“Treasury”) Final Rule on CSLFRF states that “recipient[s] may use funds for the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in the recipient’s general revenue due to the public health emergency.”[1] Treasury further clarifies that “the provision of government services” includes any service traditionally provided by a government, such as the “provision of police, fire, and other public safety services.”[2] Thus, if a municipality can establish an overall reduction in revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, or elects to choose the standard allowance for revenue loss, the funds dedicated to revenue replacement could likely be used to pay for police equipment, including monitoring and non-lethal equipment.

B.  Preventing and Responding to Violence

Treasury states that “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” constitutes an eligible use of funds.[3] Body-worn cameras and TASERs may be considered forms of such technology. Thus, in some circumstances, a municipality could assert that the COVID-19 public health emergency caused an increase in certain forms of violence, and that the purchase of equipment for law enforcement officers, such as body-worn cameras and TASERs, are responsive to this harm and therefore an eligible expense.[4]

Treasury may provide additional information when it issues new Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) associated with the Final Rule. Municipalities may also refer to the U.S. Department of Education guidance provided to state educational agencies and local educational agencies related to the ARP’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (“ESSER”) Fund for additional ideas on how ARP funds can be used to promote public safety.[5]

Last Updated: March 31, 2022

[1] Treas. Reg. 31 CFR 35 at 423, available at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRF-Final-Rule.pdf.

[2] Department of Treasury, “Coronavirus State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds: Overview of the Final Rule,” at 11, available at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRF-Final-Rule-Overview.pdf.

[3] Treas. Reg. 31 CFR 35 at 72, available at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRF-Final-Rule.pdf.

[4] Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, Frequently Asked Questions (as of January 2022) – FAQ #4.8, at 21–22, available at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRPFAQ.pdf.

[5] U.S. Department of Education, “How American Rescue Plan Funds Can Prevent and Respond to Crime and Promote Public Safety,” (as of June 2021), available at: https://oese.ed.gov/files/2021/06/21-0130-ARP-Public-Safety-ED-FAQ-06-16-2021.pdf.