As the Sacramento Police Department declared a 93-day crackdown on gang violence last year, officers were moved from low-crime beats to assignments aimed at combating the growing street gang population. The result was a significant drop in gang-related killings and volumes of street intelligence gathered through dozens of arrests, reports the Sacramento Bee. The crackdown also had an adverse effect on the city’s crime rate. Property crimes — incidents like burglaries and car thefts — spiked, a trend that has started to taper off. Officials said the jump was the clear consequence of having an understaffed police force.
A review of national police department staffing shows just how undermanned Sacramento is. Of the nation’s 50 largest cities, Sacramento has the fewest uniformed police officers per capita, according to figures compiled by the FBI. Based on staffing numbers and census population estimates for 2005, there are 1.46 uniformed police officers in Sacramento for every 1,000 residents. That’s roughly half the national average for large cities and is also well below the rate for the rest of the state, which is about 2.0. “We are very underpoliced,” Sacramento Police Chief Albert Nájera said. “The growth of this city, the growth of our entertainment district, the growth of our businesses — which are all great, by the way — all of those are combining very quickly to put us into a position where we’re very undermanned.” There are 668 police officers in Sacramento, a city of 456,441. Cleveland, Atlanta and Kansas City, Mo. — all cities of similar size — have at least twice as many cops. Washington, D.C., leads the nation with 6.8 cops per 1,000 residents.