A survey of local police departments conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum suggests that the economic crisis may be easing in a minority of cities, but most police budgets still are being cut. Of 416 agencies that responded to similar surveys in 2010 and this year, 51 percent reported budget cuts this year, compared with 78 percent two years ago. Forty percent of the agencies said budget cuts were planned in the next fiscal year, compared with 61 percent in 2010.
“The bad news is that most local police agencies are still suffering budget-cutting,” said PERF executive director Chuck Wexler. “However, there may be some good news in the fact that the budget-cutting that began as early as 2008 seems to have stopped in some departments.” Wexler said that in places including Camden, N.J., and Oakland, “budget cuts are having a direct impact on violent crime, which is significantly higher.” Among other findings of the survey, 53 percent of agencies reported an increase in their contacts with persons with mental illness due to the economic downturn, 56 percent of departments believe they have seen an increase in domestic violence due to the economy, and budget cuts were made most often in overtime (reported by 48 percent of agencies); vehicle fleets (39 percent) and training (30 percent).