More officers on the street figures to save money in long run
CRIME doesn't pay. But it sure does cost.
The cost of adding police officers is more than offset by the reduction in the cost of crime, says the Rand Corporation in promoting a cost-of-crime calculator that public officials can use to plan for public safety needs.
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Measuring the cost of crime is somewhat subjective, factoring in such intangibles as an increase in “general fear” and the diminishment of quality of life. Other costs are easier to measure and include lost property and the price of incarceration.
Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty wants to add 200 officers to the local force, which would cost the city as much as $20 million a year. The Rand figures, however, say the addition of 200 officers would save as much as $100 million a year in the cost of murder alone in Oklahoma City. Adding just one officer could save four times the cost of the officer's compensation.
Of course this is largely an academic exercise. Adding officers immediately increases the payroll, but the “savings” from lowered crime costs won't show up in the form of checks from criminals.
The size of the Oklahoma City police force is often a matter of contention. It was front and center in the debate over MAPS 3 in 2009. Whether it was best to continue a temporary sales tax for capital improvement projects or for ongoing public safety expenses triggered much discussion. The capital improvements side won that debate, but taxes for public safety will soon be in the forefront again with a proposed election on a new county jail.
Growth in the city's police force has been anemic compared with the growth of the population. Part of the justification for Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele's 2012 justice reinvestment initiative centered on the need to spend more up front on crime (additional police officers) and less on the other end (incarceration). Steele managed to get key parts of his initiative enacted into law.
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