U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Policing and the Economic Downturn: Striving for Efficiency is the New Normal

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2013
48 pages
This report examines how police departments are managing their budgets following the economic downturn of 2008.
This report, from the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), examines how police departments are managing their budgets in the wake of the 2008 economic downturn. Since 2008, PERF has been conducting surveys, documenting the effects of the downturn on police budgets. Results from the surveys show that among the 416 police departments that responded in both 2010 and 2012, 51 percent reported budget cuts for the current fiscal year, down from 78 percent that reported budget cuts in 2010. In addition, 40 percent of the 416 departments indicated that they plan to cut budgets again next year, down from 61 percent in 2010. Areas in police budgets that showed improvement were recruiting in which 32 percent of departments had suspended recruitment in 2010 while only 15 percent had suspended recruitment in 2012; training - 55 percent reduced training in 2012, compared to 71 percent in 2010; officer pay - 57 percent eliminated pay raises in 2012, compared to 67 percent in 2010; and reductions in police services - 44 percent implemented these changes in 2012, compared to 58 percent in 2010. Other areas affected by budget cuts include response times, overtime spending, layoffs, and technology purchases. The survey results also provide information on how budget cuts have affected crime rates, especially rates for violent crime and property crimes. The remaining sections of this report discuss the efforts by specific police departments to manage their budgets during the economic downturn. The departments examined were the Corpus Christi Police Department in Texas; the Camden, NJ Police Department; and the sheriff's office in Lane County, OR. Tables and figures