The deployment of thousands of U.S. police officers to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other military reserve posts is costing local law enforcement agencies up to $1.2 billion per year, says an analysis of Justice Department data reported by USA Today. The review by Justice statistician Matthew Hickman found that the number of military call-ups is outstripping the pace of new hires at a time when agencies are struggling to find new recruits, and as crime is ticking upward after several years of historically low crime rates.
The problem is acute in small police agencies, which often have struggled to fill gaps in patrol coverage left by cops who have been called to military duty, says Hickman’s analysis in Police Chief magazine. “This is a serious problem since (police executives) cannot place quotas on the number of reservists in their agencies,” said the analysis, which noted that about 2.2 percent of the estimated 683,600 full-time police officers, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers across the nation are in the military reserves. Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, said that many of the 25-30 Houston cops called to military duty have been notified that their service likely will be extended beyond a year.