Crime Up, Police Down in Sacramento–Dangers of Economizing?


Amid severe police cutbacks, crime is rising in Sacramento, reports the New York Times. Shootings are up 48 percent this year. Rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, and vehicle thefts have also increased. In 2011, faced with the biggest budget cuts yet, $12.2 million, Police Chief Rick Braziel was forced to take drastic action: he laid off officers and civilian employees; eliminated the vice, narcotics, financial crimes, and undercover gang squads, sending many detectives back to patrol; and thinned the auto theft, forensics and canine units. Police officers no longer responded to burglaries, misdemeanors, or minor traffic accidents.

“You reach the point where there is nothing left to cut,” Braziel said. The department has lost more than 300 sworn officers and civilian staff members and more than 30 percent of its budget since 2008. As many cities are curtailing essential services like policing — Los Angeles may lay off 160 civilian police employees by Jan. 1 — the cutbacks in this sprawling city of 472,000 offer a window on the potential consequences of such economizing measures, experts say. “Sacramento may be a good city to watch in terms of what we can predict for the future,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum.

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