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COPS Office: Economy Devastating Local Law Enforcement Agencies, Leading to Fundamental Changes in Delivery of Police Services

By
November 7, 2011


COPS Office: Economy Devastating Local Law Enforcement Agencies, Leading to Fundamental Changes in Delivery of Police Services

A new report from the COPS Office shows that the economic downturn of the past several years has devastated local economies and their local law enforcement agencies. It shows further that the nationís law enforcement agencies are confronting severe budget cuts and unmanageable layoffs, and they are fundamentally changing how they keep the public safe, according to the report.

Among the reportís findings:

  • By the end of the year, itís expected that nearly 12,000 police officers and sheriffís deputies will have been laid off.

  • Approximately 30,000 law enforcement jobs are unfilled.

  • An estimated 28,000 officers and deputies have faced week-long furloughs in 2010.

  • 2011 could produce the first national decline in law enforcement officer positions in at least the last 25 years.

  • Over one-third of the agencies that applied for 2011 COPS officer hiring funding reported an operating budget drop of greater than 5 percent between 2009 and 2011.

  • Nearly a quarter of American cities surveyed have made cuts to public safety budgets.

The report also describes how the delivery of law enforcement services is fundamentally changing as a result of todayís economic climate:

  • Some agencies have stopped responding to all motor vehicle thefts, burglar alarms, and non-injury motor vehicle accidents.

  • Agencies have also reported decreases in investigations of property crimes, fugitive tracking, a variety of white collar crimes, and even low-level narcotics cases.

  • Many agencies have greatly reduced training opportunities for their officers.

  • Investments in technology and communications systems are being slashed in many agencies facing budget reductions.

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services in the U.S. Department of Justice prepared the report, The Impact of the Economic Downturn on American Police Agencies, using data from a number of current surveys and data sets. It is available online at http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/files/RIC/Publications/e101113406_Economic%20Impact.pdf.