As city budgets shrink and services are being reduces, or even eliminated, law enforcement will not escape being forced to closely examine its daily operations. City planners base city service budgets on past calls for service as the best predictor of future service requirements.
Law enforcement is not an exception and somewhere in the police and sheriff’s department is a map showing all the past crimes, calls for service, category of crime and location. Investigators keep similar records of active and past investigations and number of open cases assigned to determine workload.
On the other side of the request for police services is the criminal who commits the crime that dictates the services required. It is the criminal that sets the entire law enforcement budget. It is simply workload versus personnel. If the criminals formed a union and got organized, they could in theory determine the 2014 city budget in Tallahassee. As a humorous, yet serious, example; in the upcoming year the newly formed Association of Criminals (AOC) could establish goals to cut back on burglaries in a certain city area or even how many felonies overall to be committed.
Based on this reduction in overall crime by the AOC in the city, the Tallahassee Police Department and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office would layoff investigators, officers and deputies and submitt an overall reduction in the budget. After a reduced 2013 crime rate, the AOC will enjoy a reduction in police services and up its activity in 2014 with little fear of arrests with much less visible police officers in the city at the previous busy criminal activity periods. The map on the wall will change based on AOC organized activity.
Seriously, reduction in police visible has already been a reality in many cities based solely on the budget and not a reduction in criminal activity. However, a reduction in police visibility will correlate into an increase of criminal activity. There really is no need for an AOC, since the reduction in services due to budget constrains has the same end result. Less police services, more crime will occur in Tallahassee and Leon County.
Priorities will be established and more self-service crime reporting will be required from the citizens. Examples are no more traffic accident on scene calls in all no major injury cases or no burglary or theft on scene services when amount of property involved is less than $500. All 911 calls will be given priorities based on set criteria for service like taking a number at the deli.
Police take home patrol cars will be either reduced or eliminated reducing police visibility in the city to save gasoline and wear and tear of equipment. Officers and deputies will have to return to the motor pool when an emergency is called increasing response time considerably. We all slow down and check our speedometers when a marked police car is visible. Opportunities to commit crimes are reduced because a criminal believes the next car on the street will be a cop car. There is no way to capture statistics of how many crimes are not committed because of this belief by criminals. Perhaps the AOC has these stats.