McALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — An infusion of nearly $15 million in grants is helping the McAllen Police Department protect the community.

On Thursday, the McAllen Police Department described 2022 as its “most successful grant funding year.”

“Our base budget this year is $40 million,” McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said. “So when you look at [$15 million], that’s about a 37% share more or less in addition to the local contributions. So it’s not $40 million minus 15. It’s $40 million plus [$15 million] in the coming year.”

McAllen PD faces serious concerns

The funding will improve staffing and efforts to deal with border security, organized crime and public safety at schools — and will be used in collaboration with other local law enforcement in the Valley, the chief indicated.

“Right now, there’s a lot of focus on school-involved shootings, the mass shootings, the active-shooter situations, and that’s a result of Uvalde,” Rodriguez said.

Emphasis can shift and law enforcement must be prepared to adapt, the chief said.

“An event can happen that can change the dynamic for us next month or the following month, or something like that,” Rodriguez said. “So it is clearly right now at the forefront for a lot of us to have the intelligence, to have the network in place, to be able to respond in a responsible way to active-shooter incidents and things like that.”

Funding will help the department adapt and meet its evolving needs, and a notable grant success during this cycle was the Texas Rio Grande Valley Texas Anti-Gang grant. 

Biggest grant exceeded $12.2M

On Sept. 17, 2021, the Texas Legislature appropriated $180 million from the general revenue fund to fund the work of Texas Anti-Gang Center programs. McAllen developed a grant application, and included a request for software, hardware, and equipment that accounted for more than $33.6 million for equipment to be used agencies Valley-wide

The application didn’t come back fully funded. However, June 10, the department learned it had been awarded a little over $12.2 million with a zero-dollar match requirement from local funds.

Those funds can be used to combat organized crime across the region.

“Equipment projects authorized under this grant include facial recognition, license plate reader, mobile command unit, armored vehicles, and bomb response equipment,” the department stated. 

Breaking down the grants

Grants approved during this grant cycle include:

  • TX OOG CJD RGV TAG: $12.2 million; 
  • US DOJ COPS: $1.87 million; 
  • US Department of Homeland Security Stonegarden: $370,000; 
  • TX Office of the Governor Criminal Justice Division Local Border Security: $10,000; 
  • TX Department of Motor Vehicle-Brownsville Auto Theft: $325,000; 
  • TX Department of Transportation-STEP Traffic Enforcement: $100,000;
  • TX Department of Public Safety-TTIC:  $250,000.

Here’s why 2022 was successful for grants

The department’s success in landing the grants was attributed to tenacity — because some grant applications succeeded only after several application attempts, the chief explained.

For example, the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing (DOJ COPS) Grant succeeded this cycle after previous years of applications. On Oct. 13, McAllen was notified of COPS would award the department $1.875 million, allowing the police force to increase by 15 sworn officers.

“Resourcefulness is a responsibility for every law enforcement agency to meet the local demand,” Rodriguez said. “The result of these grants… one of them, for example the COPS grant, that’s like our fifth year [to apply]. You can’t try, not get approved, and then quit and then never do it again. You have a duty to not only do your job as a crime fighter, but you also have a duty to be resourceful and to bring federal state and local funds together to do your job.”