Some cities are merging their police departments in areas where persistent budget problems are changing the way basic public services are delivered, reports USA Today. Until the recession, law enforcement was largely spared from budget tensions. Now some communities have reaped both financial savings and operational efficiencies after consolidations or mergers of police functions.
There is evidence that local government officials are increasingly considering similar dramatic changes in pursuit of more affordable public safety options. Pennsylvania state police are taking on increasing patrol duties after closures of town and village departments. As the economy continues to sputter, larger police agencies, including Oakland, Detroit and Camden, N.J., have raised concerns about their ability to respond to routine residential burglaries, theft, and public nuisance calls. A 2011 Justice Department report found that agencies are implementing a range of options, from shared SWAT teams, crime labs, dispatchers, and records units to wholesale mergers and regionalization, that is changing the face of local law enforcement.