"The effects of the economic downturn on law enforcement agencies may be felt for the next five to 10 years, or worse, permanently,'' the report concluded, adding that the days when local governments allocated up to 50% of their budgets for public safety are "no longer a fiscal possibility.''The article also stated that 12,000 police officers will have lost their jobs by the end of the year and another 30,000 positions will remain unfilled by law enforcement agencies across the country.
This information comes from a DOJ report that is due to be released at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference today. The DOJ report titled The Impact of the Economic Downturn on American Police Agencies can be obtained here.
A couple of interesting bits from the report are how the economy has affected the services police provide or no longer provide as the case may be.
- Eight percent of departments surveyed are no longer responding to all motor vehicle thefts.
- Nine percent of departments are no longer responding to all burglar alarms.
- Fourteen percent of departments are no longer responding to all non-injury motor vehicle accidents.
I would imagine that these numbers are only going to rise. I know that we've had discussions about changes in the services we provide here in the sleepy little burg where I work. We've been pretty fortunate that we have not had to make significant changes yet, but I have a feeling that we will have to make some hard decisions in the future.
That being said, it's important that law enforcement agencies work to be as efficient as possible if they are going to survive. It's also important that we are able to determine what level of service our communities are willing to pay for.
Are you ready to discuss what level of service your community is willing to pay for? Have you identified services that could likely be curtailed with the least effect on public safety?