Savannah, Ga., Police Chief Michael Berkow envisions officers zipping through downtown on scooters, tracking drug dealers on cell phones, and getting forensic evidence within minutes at a crime scene, says the Savannah News. He wants officers to attend the top training academies and to learn alongside authorities responding to national disasters. That takes funding that extends beyond the department’s $53.16 million annual budget. The police department is joining forces with area businesses to create a nonprofit police foundation. City officials say it is a way to fund public-safety initiatives without tax increases.
From New York to New Orleans, Los Angeles to Tuscon, nonprofit organizations have sprouted up to help fund police forces. “They are very popular,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. The New York City Police Foundation, the first in the nation, has raised more than $70 million since it began in 1971. Savannah’s Berkow says, “Our training budget is well-funded, but these things are expensive. I have two lieutenants at a senior management school in Boston, and that costs $10,000 a student.”