Bratton Persuades L.A. To Expand Police Force Despite Economy


Shrinking budgets are forcing cities like Phoenix, Portland, Or., and San Diego to cut their police forces but Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton has grown his department with a persuasive argument about the financial costs of crime, reports the Wall Street Journal. The city is adding 1,000 police officers, pushing its force levels in the Los Angeles Police Department to above 10,000 for the first time, even as the city faces a more than $400 million shortfall for this fiscal year and next. Bratton thinks of Los Angeles’s crime reduction as money in the bank. “The cost of a homicide to the city is $1 million,” he said, citing National Institute of Justice study that takes into account such costs as criminal trials and police salaries. “We’ve reduced the homicide rate by nearly 300 in six years,” he said. “That’s a $300 million annual benefit to the city.”

Criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri, St. Louis, says Bratton’s numbers assume that policing is capable of controlling the entire crime situation in a city. Historically, Rosenfeld said, crime wanes during periods of economic growth and surges during economic downturns. Says Bratton: “The irony is that as we go into this economic downturn, we’re expanding, which is exactly what you need to do when the economy turns bad.”


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