Statement of Needs
For grant writers, the art of persuasive communication extends well beyond eloquence. It hinges on meticulous attention to detail, the strategic use of statistics, and the unwavering clarity of purpose. Amid the intricacies of crafting a grant proposal, there's a particular component that demands utmost precision: the statement of needs. This cornerstone of your proposal serves as the fulcrum upon which funding decisions pivot, and its effectiveness hinges on the richness of details and the robustness of supporting statistics. As we journey into the realm of grant writing, let's reflect on a poignant example that underscores the vital role that meticulous details and compelling statistics play in shaping a persuasive statement of needs:
The landscape of American policing is rapidly changing in highly visible ways. Unaddressed social problems such as substance abuse, mental illness, domestic violence, and poverty have vastly expanded the demands on patrol officers. One of the enduring myths about policing involves the idea that police officers are primarily crime fighters; however, less than one-third of a patrol officer’s activities are actually devoted to law enforcement (Vickers, 2000). Many calls for service do not necessarily require the response of a sworn police officer with arrest power; however, they often require someone with professional expertise.
According to Miller and Braswell (1983), "crisis intervention calls represent the most frequent requests for police services" (p. 27). For the criminal justice worker, the term crisis would most likely refer to a situation in which an individual is having extreme difficulty coping with a personal problem, event, or interpersonal situation (Richards, 2007). It is considered a crucial or decisive point in one's life that can be emotionally stressful and traumatizing (Everly & Mitchel, 1997). As the role of police officers continues to expand from exclusively crime fighting to encompass other service-oriented functions, they must be able to recognize the characteristics of individuals in crisis and must have the skills to effectively and compassionately utilize verbal de-escalation techniques.
The primary objective of the police when responding to crisis intervention calls is to restore and preserve peace and the safety of all individuals involved in the disturbance, while protecting the community. When a police officer responds to a crisis involving a person with a serious mental illness who is not receiving treatment, the safety of both the person in crisis and the responding officer may be compromised, particularly when the officer has received little or no training about mental illnesses and crisis intervention (Miller, 2002; Oliva, 2007). To this end, it is imperative that police officers possess the skills necessary to safely and effectively intervene during crisis situations; that is, "because police officers deal primarily with people who have problems, they must try to develop and utilize observation and communication skills in order to perform their job effectively and efficiently" (Miller, 1983, p. 73).
The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model, arguably the most well-known strategy to improve police response to persons experiencing mental health disturbances or illnesses, is being implemented widely in the United States, with backing from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing Final Report (2015) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). In 2015, the Anytown Police Department was awarded the Criminal Justice Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for the Department’s “dedication to assisting the mentally ill and their families through the use of comprehensive training, court diversions and by partnering with mental health advocates” (Boyle, 2015). This award was recognition of Anytown PD's "Crisis Intervention Specialist" model created by Montgomery County Emergency Services; through which every officer “has attended this three-day program and a large portion of them now have advanced mental health training. The Basic CIS School focuses on crisis intervention, mental health law, competency, mental health disorders, mental retardation, substance abuse, suicide, medications, terminology and appropriate referral processes. It includes clinical visits and direct instruction from experienced mental health professionals” (Boyle, 2015). While this training is a solid foundation for the skills required to manage situations involving persons in crisis; no amount of classroom training can replace reality-based training. Unfortunately, the space, time, manpower, and cost involved with providing high-quality reality-based training makes the training infrequent, cumbersome, costly, and detrimental to daily operations. Virtual reality (VR) systems have been found to be particularly useful in delivering an effective, convenient, and cost-effective way to provide active engagement through experimental learning; providing the perfect medium between ineffective classroom training and traditional reality-based training VR system allows officers to train more frequently and in fluid training scenarios, to hone necessary de-escalation skills and practice empathy for individuals experiencing mental health crises.
In the realm of grant writing, we've explored the immense power that lies in the details, and the transformative potential of supporting statistics. Crafting a statement of needs is not just about conveying a message; it's about painting a vivid, data-backed picture of the challenges faced by your community. As grant writers, you hold the keys to unlocking the resources that can drive positive change. Remember, it's not merely the words you choose, but the stories you tell through those words that have the potential to secure the funding that can make a lasting impact.
So, as you embark on your grant writing journey, armed with your arsenal of details and statistics, know that you have the ability to drive change, effect transformation, and create a better future for those you serve. Keep the power of words and the strength of compelling narratives close to your heart, and may your grant proposals resonate with the hearts and minds of those who hold the purse strings of positive change. Happy grant writing!