A police foundation is a partnership between a community’s police department and citizens who wish to assist the police in accomplishing their complex and multi-faceted mission.
The mission is typically to support a police department directly with resources to augment its services to the public. Across the country, police foundations such as we have in Juno Beach, have funded a wide range of vital purchases and innovative programs, including
- acquiring essential equipment such as bullet resistant vests, computers, drones, and digital cameras
- contributing to the ongoing education and in-service training of police officers and supervisors
- helping to maintain officer health, from in-house gyms to funding suicide prevention programs
- sponsoring citizen awareness, life saving, and quality of life programs
- investing in management and operational reforms that contribute to the decline of crime in the community
Because police departments and employees cannot solicit or accept funds or favors from private individuals or organizations without compromising their impartiality, police foundations play an important role in seeking funds for police programs and projects. A foundation that is established as an independent organization within the laws and regulations set by the U.S. government and individual states may accept gifts on behalf of its police department.
Typically, foundations are organized as nonprofit corporations under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Under this statute, police foundations are charitable organizations exempt from paying taxes on the contributions they receive, and donors may also deduct their contributions on their annual tax returns. Foundations must apply to the IRS and comply with not only its rules and regulations but also those of the state in which the foundation intends to organize to receive this special tax status.
Practices and procedures exist that are common to all nonprofits to which police foundations conform. Ethical behavior, transparency in all transactions, board governance, and conflicts of interest avoidance are among these standards. Furthermore, compliance with IRS and state rules and best practices of nonprofit organizations greatly enhance a police foundation’s credibility with donors, thus increasing its ability to raise funds and provide support.
Police foundations often create a formal procedure through which a police department submits grant proposals to the board of directors. This process helps to ensure the foundation is acting impartially and protects the foundation and department from charges of being a “slush” fund.
The Juno Beach Police Foundation, formed in 2018, conforms to all the best practices, formal procedures, and reporting requirements noted in this article and as required by both the Internal Revenue Code and the rules and regulations of the State of Florida.