Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hiring Cops: How Much Bang Do You Get For The Buck?

Last week I posted about leaner police budgets forcing law enforcement agencies to come up with new and cheaper ways to deal with meth lab clean ups. On a similar note regarding leaner budgets and more careful spending, there comes this bit from US DOJ's Community Policing Dispatch that looks at a RAND Corporation tool that allows agencies to estimate their return on investment of the costs of hiring additional police officers.

RAND’s Center on Quality Policing has developed an online calculator tool that can help city managers, police leaders, city council members, media, and the public better understand the cost of crime in their communities and the returns on police personnel investments. Underpinning the tool is information drawn from peer-reviewed academic studies that measure the cost of crime and the effects of changing a police force size on crime.

This is an interesting concept. I also think that it's a much needed one. For so long, cities haven't really correlated the cost of crime with their police budgets. They sometimes just throw money at the crime problem without any empirical evidence that they are going to see a meaningful return on their investment.

But now, the new fiscal reality of tighter budgets is forcing people to ask these questions. As law enforcement professionals, we need to make sure that our communities are getting what they pay for.

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