Special Report

How Much Money Goes to Police Departments in America's Largest Cities

Miami, Florida
> Population, 2018: 470,911
> Police dept. funding as % of total budget, fiscal year 2020: 23.4% (7th largest out of 50 largest cities)
> Total police budget for fiscal 2020: $266 million (22nd smallest)
> Total city budget for fiscal 2020: $1.14 billion (12th smallest)
> Law enforcement employees per 100K: 370 (36th highest out of 634 cities with 65K +)
> Total law enforcement employees: 1,741 (1,309 officers, 432 civilian employees)
> Violent crimes reported per 100K in 2018: 630 (126th highest out of 634 cities of 65K +)

The coronavirus pandemic had already put a strain on most governmental budgets across the country. Then nationwide protests against police brutality following George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer required local police departments to spend additional money on overtime. The Miami Police Department has spent more than $1.8 million on police overtime because of the protests, a spokesperson tells Axios. Meanwhile, protesters are encouraging county officials to redirect money from the police department to social services.

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Colorado Springs, Colorado
> Population, 2018: 472,666
> Police dept. funding as % of total budget, fiscal year 2020: 20.6% (12th largest out of 50 largest cities)
> Total police budget for fiscal 2020: $141 million (5th smallest)
> Total city budget for fiscal 2020: $682.07 million (2nd smallest)
> Law enforcement employees per 100K: 211 (243rd highest out of 634 cities with 65K +)
> Total law enforcement employees: 995 (702 officers, 293 civilian employees)
> Violent crimes reported per 100K in 2018: 555 (155th highest out of 634 cities of 65K +)

Mayor John Suthers set a goal of hiring 120 additional police officers by 2022 when the 2020 budget was proposed in October 2019. Economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the city to implement a hiring freeze and cut $20 million from its capital budget. Across-the-board wage cuts may also be a possibility. Despite calls from protesters to “defund the police” and the financial challenges, the mayor said, “I’m still trying pursuant to our goal of adding 120 police officers, 32 firefighters by 2022. I still have every hope in the world of doing that.”

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Kansas City, Missouri
> Population, 2018: 491,809
> Police dept. funding as % of total budget, fiscal year 2020: 15.4% (25th largest out of 50 largest cities)
> Total police budget for fiscal 2021: $273 million (24th smallest)
> Total city budget for fiscal 2021: $1.77 billion (25th largest)
> Law enforcement employees per 100K: 370 (34th highest out of 634 cities with 65K +)
> Total law enforcement employees: 1,819 (1,299 officers, 520 civilian employees)
> Violent crimes reported per 100K in 2018: 1,590 (7th highest out of 634 cities of 65K +)

Kansas City officials have asked the police department to cut $10 million from its budget, local news outlet KCTV reports. Acting City Manager Earnest Rouse said in a letter to all city department heads that budget cuts of about 4.5% would be needed from every department because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect reducing city revenue. A $10 million budget cut could result in the loss of 212 positions, the police department said. Meanwhile, protesters in Kansas City have called for defunding the police, saying that money would be better spent on education, safety, and health.

Atlanta, Georgia
> Population, 2018: 498,073
> Police dept. funding as % of total budget, fiscal year 2020: 9.3% (7th smallest out of 50 largest cities)
> Total police budget for fiscal 2020: $205 million (16th smallest)
> Total city budget for fiscal 2020: $2.20 billion (20th largest)
> Law enforcement employees per 100K: 399 (22nd highest out of 634 cities with 65K +)
> Total law enforcement employees: 1,987 (1,535 officers, 452 civilian employees)
> Violent crimes reported per 100K in 2018: 769 (80th highest out of 634 cities of 65K +)

As city officials consider the budget for fiscal year 2021, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says she will not defund the police department. Instead, she said, she will divert money from the Department of Corrections to social services. The mayor intends to reduce the $19 million proposed corrections budget to $4 million, according to local news outlet WABE. The money cut will be redirected to the Office of Constituent Services.

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Sacramento, California
> Population, 2018: 508,517
> Police dept. funding as % of total budget, fiscal year 2020: 13.6% (16th smallest out of 50 largest cities)
> Total police budget for fiscal 2021: $158 million (6th smallest)
> Total city budget for fiscal 2021: $1.16 billion (13th smallest)
> Law enforcement employees per 100K: 186 (302nd highest out of 634 cities with 65K +)
> Total law enforcement employees: 948 (651 officers, 297 civilian employees)
> Violent crimes reported per 100K in 2018: 657 (117th highest out of 634 cities of 65K +)

Debate on police funding in Sacramento centers on how proceeds from the Measure U sales tax are being used. The city’s 1-cent sales tax, which took effect on April 1, 2019, was approved in a ballot measure in 2018. Legally, the money can be used for any core city service, but the sales tax was presented to voters as a means to support “inclusive economic development projects” and to uplift underserved neighborhoods, according to The Sacramento Bee. Now, because of economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, $45.7 million from the sales tax is slated to go to the police department. Some community activists say the police department’s budget should be cut by up to $50 million.