Police Department Budget Cuts: How Funding Shortages Impact Police Officer Safety
Earlier this month, we attended the National Sheriffs’ Association conference in New Orleans, where thousands of sheriffs, deputies and office law enforcement professionals were in attendance. Not only did those in attendance visit exhibit booths in the convention center, but they had debate on issues that matter most to them as law enforcement officers. One of the major topics of conversation was the devastating effects of sheriffs’ and police department budget cuts.
The consequences of police budget cuts
As we sat at the exhibit booth in New Orleans, sheriffs and deputies from Noblesville, Indiana, the site of a shooting at Noblesville West Middle School on May 25, discussed their funding shortages with other sheriffs. The tone of the Noblesville deputies was somber as they explained their department’s lack of funding for more training, equipment and manpower. And they weren’t alone. Sheriffs from across the country expressed similar concerns about funding shortfalls in their own departments.
Public safety must be the top priority for local government leaders. Events like the shooting at Noblesville West Middle School will continue to occur, in part, because public safety is not adequately funded in many cities and counties across the country. Furthermore, the rise in violence against police officers makes public safety funding even more critical.
Today in Kentucky, for example, state troopers are driving out-of-date cars that present a danger not only the troopers, but to civilians as well. Cruisers with an average mileage count of 140,000 are being assigned to the latest cadets coming out of the academy. In fact, one trooper’s transmission fell out of his cruiser on his way to save another trooper who had been shot! It is simply inexcusable for government leaders to turn their backs on these types of issues, and we as citizens must hold them accountable for their neglect.
Lack of competitive pay for law enforcement
At the NSA Conference, Sheriff department personnel from Indiana also talked about the lack of “competitive wages” offered by their departments. One of them made the point that the average salary for a 10-year veteran in his department is only half the amount of what a 25-year-old, electrical engineer makes fresh out of college. In his view, there is very little financial incentive for potential recruits to join the Force which is a reality that cannot be ignored.
In response, a sheriff from Oklahoma spoke up and said, “I obviously do not do this for the money.” His statement represents exactly why law enforcement officers are some of the best among us. However, given their selfless sacrifice, we as citizens must demand that our local public officials properly fund their law enforcement agencies.
Issues like the growing police shortage in the United States is why the National Police Support Fund is committed to promoting the interests of law enforcement in the public policy process. Together we can ensure that the interests of America’s police officers are heard and promoted at all levels of government!