The collapse of U.S. financial markets is forcing deep cuts in local police agencies and stoking fears among police chiefs that mass home foreclosures are bringing more crime to suburbs. The financial meltdown is starting to touch everything from police response times to unsolved crimes, reports USA Today. “As we see significant reductions, we’ll be seeing increased response times, fewer cases solved and reduced services for victims of crime,” says Prince William County, Va., Police Chief Charlie Deane. His $73 million budget could drop up to 30% next year due to declining property tax revenues.
Blocks of homes vacant from foreclosures are becoming magnets nationwide for gang members, drug users, prostitutes and thieves, who steal appliances and fixtures, officers say. At the same time, police agencies are dramatically reducing their forces as local governments struggle to allocate shrinking revenue from property and sales taxes to fund basic services. Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel is slashing 200 positions and may need to cut more. In a survey of 180 police chiefs released last week by the Police Executive Research Forum, 45% said the economy had affected their agency’s “ability to reduce crime.”