Budget reductions in police departments
Most police departments in America have to manage budget reductions. Most states have had their budgets reduced in comparison to previous years. A large percentage of law enforcement is now becoming the responsibility of the local government agencies, and not of the state government. Local towns are also facing a decline in revenues, and increasing their financial burden will probably only compound issues and lead to more cuts and losses. People have reducing spending because of which towns are not generating the needed funding. Pay cuts have reduced spending and caused fewer town revenues. Everyone agrees that they will have to do more with less.
This economic crisis has also resulted in an increase in employment. There is a possible relation between unemployment and crime, because inflation basically reduces the real income of unskilled laborers, and increases the demand for cheaper often illegal goods. Many agencies have said that they need additional funding. Of the many sheriffs and police officers interviewed, only 8 percent reported not needing an increase in officers to maintain an effective police force. It is generally understood that larger agencies needed a smaller percent increase in staffing, while smaller agencies a larger increase. One police chief said that they would have to try and do the same job but with less money.
Many agencies are desperately trying to cope with these cuts, because during tough economic times, the demand for law enforcement agencies increases, yet budgets are being mercilessly slashed. It is the average citizen who is the loser in all this. Besides layoffs and pay cuts, overtime has also been significantly reduced. Small sized police departments seemed to be the least affected by overtime reductions. Jails have also been affected by the receding economy. There has been an increase in the jail population but no increase in the funds to maintain the prisoners. The economy has also had adverse affects on the performance of the courts.
Officers cite various problems including the decline in efficiency of the courts due to budget cuts. They have noted an increase in property due to which there are case overloads. Judges were also said to more lenient, and there was less sentencing or charges filed against offenders. In order to help compensate for a reduction in funding, one method some agencies have implemented is increased reliance on less costly civilian staff. Fifty percent of the sheriffs’ offices responding stated they have increased the use of civilians. The economic crisis will have an adverse affect on the court system. It is estimated that by 2013, it could result in the closure of more than half of the courtrooms in many states and the layoff of thousands of employees.