Cost-Reduction Strategies in Policing

Project Purpose/Goal

The challenge facing law enforcement agencies everywhere is to be able to balance resources and service levels within budgetary constraints and community desires. Law enforcement agencies are experiencing increasing demands for more effective decision making, more efficient management of resources, and the achievement of government outcomes. However, since the recession that began in 2008, many municipalities have been forced to reduce spending on law enforcement causing cutbacks in services and even layoffs of sworn personnel. These budgetary reductions have caused many agencies around the world to seek solutions to providing law enforcement services more efficiently and effectively. The Police Foundation and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), U.S. Department of Justice are now completing the two final products, which will be available soon.


Approach, Results and Implications

This project consisted of a review, survey, and case study interviews to assess strategies for reducing agency costs while maintaining service delivery. A comprehensive international survey was developed for police agencies in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. Follow-up interviews were conducted to provide more extensive case studies outlining particular practices. This process was intended to support the information obtained from the literature and internet searches and formed the basis to identify best practice service delivery efficiency and effectiveness models and procedures.

The survey was used to review the approaches currently adopted by police agencies that reduce organizational and operational costs and to provide information about how these strategies have been implemented and evaluated. The survey allowed for the identification of agencies that have undertaken extensive changes in programs to maintain their service delivery levels or to increase service efficiency and effectiveness while facing budget constraints.


Funding & Collaboration

The Cost Reduction Strategies project is supported by funding from the COPS Office.


Points of Contact

Karen Amendola, Ph.D.
Chief Behavioral Scientist
(202) 833-1460

Garth den Heyer
Senior Research Fellow



Police services, funding cuts, international police, cost reduction strategies

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