Impact of the Economic Downturn on American Police Agencies

December 13, 2011

Impact of the Economic Downturn on American Police Agencies (PDF)
Source:  U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services

In 2008, the entire country was introduced to the largest fiscal crisis since the Great Depression . Many who have worked in the field for decades have never seen an economic situation that has affected law enforcement like the one our country currently faces . As cities and counties across America are experiencing a downturn in local revenues, the effects on public safety budgets have been significant. Americans are faced with a new economic reality, in which they are challenged to develop new and innovative ways to leverage resources and maximize productivity in the face of diminishing financial means. Police agencies have not escaped the effects of shrinking revenues . In fact, the economic challenges facing many Americans are amplified when it comes to public safety.

To compensate for shrinking budgets, many individuals focus on what can be sacrificed from their normal lifestyle in order to offset the reduction in available spending . Families may forego their annual summer vacation, or choose to only shop in discount stores rather than their favorite department stores . However, law enforcement agencies face the more difficult and ever important task of maintaining the same quality of service that they always have provided despite a severe reduction in available resources . Therefore, to successfully deliver the high levels of community protection and emergency responsiveness communities depend on, law enforcement agencies must develop new and innovative techniques to address the needs of their communities in cost-effective and sustainable ways.

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