Thursday, April 28, 2011

Police Budget Woes Mean Changing Priorities In Camden

The implications of tight budgets for police agencies is no more readily apparent than in the case of the Camden, New Jersey Police Department which earlier this year laid off half it's police force as the result of a huge budget shortfall. There were a couple of news stories this week on this issue. The first looks at the increase in crime that has occurred in Camden since the layoffs. From the story at NJ.com:
"I think it just comes down to the people on the street. The bad guys know we’re not out there, and it has an effect on how they operate," said James Stewart Jr., vice president of Newark’s Fraternal Order of Police. "That’s why the shootings have increased dramatically, that’s why the homicides are up."
In the other story over at Philly.com, reports on Camden's Police Chief Scott Thomson recieving an award from the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) for his use of technology to try and make up the gap caused by the layoffs. From that story:
Thomson's use of technology and increased street patrols in one of the nation's most dangerous cities will be recognized Friday by the Police Executive Research Forum, a law enforcement think tank in Washington. Its current president is Philadelphia Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey.

Thomson will receive the Gary Hayes Award for innovative policing at the forum's annual conference, said Chuck Wexler, its executive director.

"No community has had to face what he's had to face," Wexler said. "He's had to change the way he polices."
While Camden seems to be the poster child for police budget woes, they aren't the only agency struggling in this poor economy. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) recently announced a new initiative to help agencies deal with problems caused by budget woes.  It's probably not going to get better anytime soon. Even here in "tough on crime" Texas we are seeing the effects of empty city coffers as agencies are seriously considering public safety layoffs to balance their budgets. The question for us as crime analysts is what to do about it.

As crime analyst's it's important that we help our agencies to be as focused as possible on our policing mission. This may mean we help our agencies to determine what services are essential to our mission and which services need to be cut. It may also mean that we employ problem oriented policing or an intelligence led policing model to make our agency more effective. It could mean that we find new and innovative ways to use existing technologies, or to find sources of new technologies on the cheap. Doing more with less is now the new paradigm in law enforcement.

What are you doing to make your agency more efficient at it's mission?

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