Other information to gather
How many employees does the police department have? How many are sworn or uniformed officers?
- How many positions are vacant? How long have they been vacant?
- How much does the average police officer cost? (This would be based on the department’s personnel budget and budgeted staff.)
- How many officers are employed per capita?
- How have personnel increased or decreased in the last 3-5 years? How do these staffing trends compare to other departments of interest?
- What are the cadet class sizes and goals? What are the recruitment costs?
- Does your department have a retire/rehire policy? (This policy allows departments to immediately hire back retired officers at their previous salary level in addition to their retirement benefit.)
Does your locality legally require a certain number of officers per capita?ShowHide Explanatory Note
To what extent can you learn what your police department personnel, especially those in patrol, do with their time?ShowHide Explanatory Note
Localities have placed an inordinate burden on law enforcement agencies to provide services that may be provided more effectively and cost-efficiently if housed elsewhere. So, analyzing a police budget must include rethinking the department’s scope and functions, as a step toward evaluating which current police functions could be reassigned to and performed better by others.
What are all the functions that your police department performs?ShowHide Explanatory Note
Does your police department perform the following functions? If so, how much is the budget and how many FTEs?
- Conduct outreach around homelessness?
- Respond to mental health distress calls and perform wellness checks? If so, is there a particular unit that does this?
- Conduct traffic enforcement involving non-violent offenses such as vehicle collisions, speeding enforcement, parking enforcement, routine traffic violations, license and registration suspensions, crossing guards?
- Run its own internal affairs or self-investigation unit?
- Staff community events, parades, and First Amendment activities?
- Conduct youth programming and youth outreach?
- Conduct public health enforcement?
- Include park police or rangers?
- Do security for your public schools?
- Do security for your public transportation?
- Do security for public housing?
- Are there any other functions that are better served by a different department?
What contracts does your police department have with local institutions (i.e. universities, public transit, parks, public housing, or other private entities)?
- Does your police department have contracts or agreements with ICE? (For more information, see “An End to the Co-optation of Local Law Enforcement for Federal Immigration Enforcement” metric.)
How is the police department organized into units and what are their functions? How many FTEs in each unit?
- Does your police department maintain specialized units, such as a mounted unit, an aquatic unit, a “vice squad”, or a SWAT team? If so, what are their budgets?
- Does your police department possess and utilize militarized equipment like armored personnel carriers, crowd control weaponry, and more?
- How much does your police department spend on obtaining and maintaining militarized equipment? (May be in the capital budget.)
- Has it received equipment through the federal 1033 program? (See the Department of Defense’s data on the 1033 program)
Is your forensic lab/department part of the police budget? If so, how much is their budget?
Is your 911 dispatcher in the police budget? If so, how much is its budget?
- How many 911 calls does your locality receive per year?
- How many involve violent crimes?
- How many involve incidents that would be better addressed by someone who isn’t a police officer (such as incidents involving houseless people, people in emotional distress, noise disturbances). (See assessment from Austin, assessment from Oakland)
* More info is available about analyzing 911 calls here
How many arrests are made per year?
- What percentage is related to violent crimes?
- What is the clearance rate for different types of violent crimes?
How much does your police department spend on public relations?
Other Key Information
Does the department receive funding from other funding sources outside of the city budget?
If so, how much? Are these funds restricted or unrestricted?
- State grants
- Federal grants, such as:
- COPS Hiring Program
- Byrne JAG
- American Rescue Plan Act
- Contracts and services ShowHide Explanatory Note
Pay particular attention to whether your police department contracts out the use of its facilities, such as training facilities, to other law enforcement entities.
- Fees, fines, and/or asset forfeitures
- Corporate, philanthropic, and private donations
Does your locality run a jail or other correctional facilities?ShowHide Explanatory Note
- If yes, what is their budget?
- If your locality has a department of corrections, you may want to do a similar line item analysis as the one above for the police department. Most of the questions outlined above are applicable to departments of corrections.
- Additional questions to ask:
- What is the average daily incarcerated population? Has that number increased or decreased in the last few years?
- What percentage of the daily population is detained pretrial?
- Has your locality made efforts to decrease the number of people locked up? If so, how and what have the results been?
- Who are the major private contractors to the jail? (Often services, such as food and healthcare, are provided by private contractors.) How much are the contracts for?
- Does your locality contract with ICE for bed space? (See, “An End to the Co-optation of Local Law Enforcement for Federal Immigration Enforcement” metric.)
- Is your police department currently under a consent decree? ShowHide Explanatory Note
This Department of Justice site is a good place to start, but may not include all jurisdictions under a consent decree.
- Is your police department currently subject to any other court order?
- Has your police department been investigated by the Department of Justice in the last 10 years? If so, what initiated the investigation and what was its outcome?
- How much has your locality paid in court settlements and payouts for officer misconduct for each of the last 10 years? ShowHide Explanatory Note
This information may be available in your public data information system, your oversight board, your inspector general’s office, and/or office of risk management. If this information is incomplete or difficult to access, consider requesting a study or an audit.
- Does your municipality borrow money from Wall Street to pay out police brutality settlements? (see for example, Police Brutality Bonds: How Wall Street Profits from PoliceViolence)
Is your locality party to an interjurisdictional agreement?ShowHide Explanatory Note
- What entities does your locality contract with and for what services and functions?
- Who has control and decision-making authority over such contracts?
- Does your locality contract its policing through the county sheriff?
- If so, how often does that contract come up for renewal?
- What functions and services does the contract procure?
- How many other localities contract with the sheriff for policing and do they have shared interests with your locality in how to structure those contracts? (For instance, elected officials across San Diego County, many from cities contracting with the county sheriff for policing, released this letter in June 2020 calling for use of force restrictions. The sheriff’s department later revised its use of force procedures.)
- Does your police department have mutual aid agreements with other local law enforcement agencies? If so, under what circumstances are those agreements activated and for what purposes? (For background on this topic, see this report commissioned by the Bush-era DOJ for the “Post-9/11 Policing Project”).