Friday, October 1, 2010

Police Chiefs Concerned Over Budget Cuts

Summit Held to Discuss Impact on Policing

This week, The Crime Report released troubling findings of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). Half of all U.S. police departments had to cut their budgets an average of 7-percent between the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years. PERF is holding a summit meeting in Washington, D.C., of police chiefs and other officials to discuss whether budget cuts are causing fundamental changes in policing.

The budget woes could continue, 59-percent of police department that cut their budgets this year are preparing to cut their budgets again next year.

According to The Crime Report, the survey, answered by 608 police departments, found a 3 percent drop in the average number of sworn officers between 2009 and 2010. The implications for large departments is obvious. However, departments as small as 25 officers can expect to lose at least one officer.

Police chiefs overwhelmingly responded that maintaining sworn officer positions is the highest priority. Because personnel costs can account for 90-percent or more of police budgets, it is difficult to make enough cuts elsewhere, they say. Among other findings: 55-percent of responding law enforcement agencies have cut back or eliminated plans to acquire technology; 68-percent have reduced or discontinued training; 38-percent have discontinued special units such as gang or drug enforcement units, and 66-percent of departments have cut overtime spending.

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