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by Peter Moskos

February 25, 2009

For a Police Surge

More cops. Less crime. Plus it's good for the economy.
Ready the interesting article by William J. Stuntz in the Weekly Standard.
House and Senate alike are making a serious error. For $5 billion per year--five years' funding would be about 3 percent of the stimulus package--lawmakers could put another 50,000 cops on city streets. Doing so would likely both reduce crime and reduce the nation's swollen prison population--a rare combination--and would also help the economy in poor city neighborhoods by making investments in those neighborhoods safer. This is one policy that conservatives and liberals alike could support. If the Obama administration is looking for opportunities for bipartisanship, it should look hard at urban policing.


LibFree said...

Thanks Peter. I'm actively fighting my local government to not cut the police force and to increase their presence. I'll forward this article on to my mayor and commission.

dave h. said...

"But those mistakes are fewer when officers are numerous enough to know the communities in which they work."

Maybe. But I'm skeptical of this idea. In the Berwyn Heights case, I blame sloppy and over agressive tactics, as well as the perverse incentives inherent in drug war policing. The war on drugs and other vices degrades the quality of policing (read "The Corner" by David Simon for more on that). If we add more police but maintain the status quo, I'm not sure we'll see much improvement.

Mind you, I say all this as a guy that is currently on one police eligibility list and has been involved in multiple hiring processes. I know how hard it is, but I still hesitate to push for "more cops on the beat" if that suggestion isn't coupled with some systemic change.