Law enforcement agencies swear to stand for public security’s defense. However, the effects of budget shortening on such agencies and individual police officers are detrimental to the point of non-efficiency. The present work is aimed at exploring the effects of budget cuts on law enforcement. It outlines such aspects of law enforcement functioning as staffing, services, equipment, officers’ stress, the importance of patrolling, and technology to ensure the community’s safety.
We will write a custom Research Paper on Budgeting and the Impact on Law Enforcement specifically for you
301 certified writers online
Budgeting and law enforcement
Since the 2008 crisis, the tension of making a dead budget account for the growing expenditures was felt by the nation. The recession has drastically affected the private citizens’ being and the operation of public services and the government. The impact on the law enforcement sector was the most tangible, and the challenges that the legal sector has to face have not dissolved even by now.
Law enforcement has to face the sad reality of an unsteady economy. Before the crisis, the industry of law enforcement experienced steady growth, job creation, and regular funding. After the housing markets fell and the federal debts increased dramatically, both federal and local agencies felt the impact. There were many things the government could not afford which was why the budgets were cut for up to 10% (The Impact of the Economic Downturn on American Police Agencies, 2016). The study by the Department of Justice revealed there were three main areas that the agencies were forced to cut back on so that their expenditures and their budget could be more or less consistent: the staffing, the services, and the equipment.
The issues related to staffing do not solely concern job layoffs. They mostly relate to the costs of the personnel’s wages, insurance, and pension (which accounts for as much as 90% of departmental budget, in some cases). The cuts in these items of expense go in line with the shortage of the staff: the year 2011 has seen an unprecedented layoff wave of about 12,000 officers all over the country (The Impact of the Economic Downturn on American Police Agencies, 2016).
While the costs of training police personnel may vary from state to state, on average, the 18-week program approximately costs the government $27,790 (The Columbian, 2013). However, it is crucial to remember that the value of having immaculately trained officers in a department has no price.
The decrease in staff is considered to be the factor directly affecting the training budget. With fewer police officers on patrol, fewer traffic tickets are issued – the very instance that the training budget comes from. The consequence is that the states cannot raise the funds for training, which was the situation faced by the state of Michigan and some other states. There was a drop in the number of sworn officers from 22,488 in 2001 to 18,522 by 2015 (Associated Press, 2015). As a result, the states cannot find the money to train police officers, which puts the law enforcement personnel and the communities under serious jeopardy.
Services are another area impacted by the drops in the budget. Here, the problem is twofold. Firstly, the cuts in staffing are coupled with the costs for fuel and the equipment budget cuts, which means that some of the calls remain unattended. These can include crimes that are regarded as “less serious”, such as burglaries and car thefts. From the other perspectives, the service cuts affect the services to which the police themselves are entitled. These include counseling and other things, which the states cannot find the funding for.
Many departments and agencies that experience budget issues cannot provide their officers with up-to-date equipment. This includes armor, vehicles, trained dogs, and computers and other technology. Particularly, the latter is the point of major concern, considering how computers and technology can easily optimize policing. For instance, mobile technology and LPR improve patrol work in that the officers can retrieve data on-the-job as if they were at the office.
It also allows them to recognize stolen vehicles instantly. There are also custom applications for iOS and Android that can be helpful in field interviewing (by creating profiles and feeding them into databases), crime mapping, flyer distribution, etc. (Smartphones for Law Enforcement, 2016). But this, and other pieces of technology, cannot be afforded in a crisis, which ultimately slows the police workflow down.
According to data provided by K-9 officers, the start and maintenance of a K-9 unit in a police department may cost up to $30,000 since it is suggested to buy dogs from a private vendor that facilitates training from the earliest stages. Furthermore, dogs require food, vet expenses, and extensive training, which make a great dent in the budget (K-9s – the cost of starting a K-9 unit, 2004).
On the whole, the cuts in budgeting have a detrimental effect on policing in the U.S. The crisis of 2008 caused a succession of pitfalls that have been gradually evolving ever since, in a snowball effect. The inability of the states to provide for the adequate payroll caused a dramatic decrease in the number of sworn officers over the country. The drop in staffing has resulted in a shortage of training budgets. The untrained personnel that cannot be provided with proper equipment are the factors to cause a significant efficiency decrease in the law enforcement system functioning.
Stress and PTSD
Stress is the body’s natural response to danger; the work of a police officer is highly dangerous, and stress is, therefore, natural to them. Stress can also result from peer and the superiors’ pressure. Exposure to chronic stress factors among officers results in behavioral and psychological problems and exacerbated health and well-being. Officers can cope with their stress by means of socialization (which is good) or turn to alcohol and other substances and have extramarital affairs (Dempsey & Forst, 2016).
The statistics for PTSD among police officers are hard to gather, and it is not something that law enforcement agencies share willingly. Yet, according to a nationwide study of 2012, about 15-18% suffered from the disorder (Kulbarsch, 2016). The majority of these officers return to duty, but their peers leave them alone. The officers with PTSD fear being stigmatized and their peers do not want to appear “nursing” them. This produces isolation among such officers, which is alarming, considering that the rates of suicide are quite high among the police.
Patrol and community policing
There are several kinds of patrolling: walking the beat, car patrol, bike, and horse patrol. Two-officer patrol, at that, is considered safer and more efficient. Still, foot patrol provides a better sense of security and makes the public feel safer when the visibility of police officers is increased. Creating a sense of security and order maintenance are the main tasks of community policing (Swanson, Territo & Taylor, 2011).
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
Community policing is the procedure of assigning officers to specific areas. In the process of it, they familiarize themselves with the inhabitants and are able to provide personalized service. The officers cannot be everywhere at once, which is why they use a variety of programs, the media, and community education to assist in crime prevention and control. Trojanowicz and Goldstein maintained that community policing could pare away individual, civil, and police violence (Dempsey & Forst, 2016). There are many areas to patrol in an urban setting, mostly those where the people turnover is big. Special attention should be paid to the “broken windows” area as these tend to attract criminals and are the frequent loci of crime.
Technology in policing
Computers enable agencies (large or small) to tailor-fit law-enforcement technologies to their requirements. As said, the budget cuts have a devastating effect on the equipment component of police duty simply because the departments cannot afford to equip their officers. This makes the issue all the more troubling since the technology and armory serve the officers’ safety as well as the society’s.
There are numerous means of improving the police’s work and keep them safe, and technology is critical at this. For instance, there is a mobile technology that allows the officers to cover more areas at greater speed – such as IP and R911. LPR allows them to recognize stolen vehicles, and some smartphone applications can be helpful in field interviewing (by creating profiles and feeding them into databases), crime mapping, flyer distribution, etc. (Smartphones for Law Enforcement, 2016). Another means of improving the efficiency and protecting the officers from stigma is the less-than-lethal weapons (e.g., irritant sprays and Tasers). These are used to disable the offenders before they inflict harm to the officers and civilians around them (Smart Weapons, n.d.).
To conclude, the cuts in the budget have a devastating effect on the efficiency of law enforcement. They create a situation when old officers are forced to resign, and the new ones are undertrained. They deny the officers their right to counseling and deprive them of the technology that would preserve their safety and cater to the community’s safety and satisfaction.
Associated Press. (2015). Budget cuts pose threat to police training in Michigan. Web.
Dempsey, J. S., & Forst, L. S. (2016). An Introduction to Policing (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
K-9s – the cost of starting a K-9 unit. (2004). Web.
Kulbarsch, P. (2016). 2015 Police suicide statistics. Web.
Smart Weapons. (n.d.). Web.
Smartphones for Law Enforcement. (2016). Web.
Swanson, C. R., Territo, L. J., & Taylor, R. E. (2011). Police Administration: Structures, Processes, and Behavior (8th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.
The Columbian. (2013). In our view: worth cost to train police. Web.
The Impact of the Economic Downturn on American Police Agencies. (2016). Web.