Monday, February 27, 2012

Taking a hit: Police department closures, consolidation and funding cuts

Police departments in cities and towns across the country, where persistent budget problems are changing the landscape, are closing.

According to the USA Today, until the recession, law enforcement was largely spared from budget tensions, but some communities have reaped both financial savings and operational efficiencies following consolidations or mergers of their police functions. And there is evidence that local government officials are increasingly considering similar dramatic changes in pursuit of more affordable public safety options, according to local government records and law enforcement authorities.

In Pennsylvania, for example, the state police are taking on increasing patrol duties, following recent closures of town and village departments. Since 2010, at least 33 cities scattered throughout Pennsylvania have closed their agencies or scaled back law enforcement operations, according to state records.

Now, when residents of these communities dial 911, state troopers — not local beat cops — are making house calls, reported the USA Today.

A 2011 survey of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the nation's largest association of top law enforcement officials, found that 77% of its members were providing some form of support for other agencies.

A separate report by the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a group representing the nation's 63 largest police forces, last year found that 70% were consolidating some law enforcement functions to compensate for recent budget cuts, reported the USA Today

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