Public expenditures on policing have more than quadrupled between 1982 and 2006, reported Governing Magazine. But with city budget shortfalls opening up across the country, police departments and their chiefs, once used to ever-growing budgets, were now facing a new reality of cutbacks, layoffs and even outright mergers and consolidations of entire police departments with others.
With federal subsidies disappearing (federal support for criminal justice assistance grant programs shrank by 43 percent between 2011 and 2013), thanks to a frugal Congress, police had few options.
As always, funding continues to be an issue. In May, the major law enforcement agencies sent a letter to the House and Senate Homeland Security Committee asking that the National Preparedness Grant Program reconsider a series of proposed changes that would reduce funding for terrorism prevention. A 2013 survey by the Institute of Justice found that 78 percent of law enforcement agencies had their grant funding cut since 2010 and 43 percent reported cuts of between 11 and 25 percent.
New technologies might ease some of the financial burdens in the long run, but take an initial investment. Police department should proceed with cause and be prudent in there technology choices.
New technologies must be benchmarked, with metrics that forecast just what their impact will be on operations before they are fully implemented. Second, police departments need to set policies, especially around tools that gather data about individuals, such as video, to ensure that the civil liberties and privacy of law-abiding citizens is not compromised.
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