Nearly half of 233 police agencies queried since the collapse of the nation’s financial markets link increases in criminal offenses to the faltering economy, says a Police Executive Research Forum survey reported by USA Today. PERF found that 44 percent of agencies reported spikes in crime linked to the economy. Of those, 39 percent reported increases in robberies, 32 percent in burglaries and 40 percent in thefts. The report says that 63 percent of the agencies were bracing for funding cuts in the coming year.
The survey, conducted over five weeks starting in late December, asked for information on all of 2008 but emphasized the past six months to account for the economic crash. he combination of declining resources and increases in some offenses represents the “first wave” of bad news for communities and police officials, says PERF’s Chuck Wexler. “When departments saw increases in violent crime (in 2005 and 2006), they were able to flood the problem areas using overtime for additional patrols. Now, that overtime is drying up,” he says. Sixty-two percent of police departments said they were cutting overtime spending. Crime reports dropped in 2007 and during the first half of 2008, the FBI says.