Special Report

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

Baltimore, Maryland
> Population, 2018: 602,495
> Police dept. funding as % of total budget, fiscal year 2020: 18.3% (18th largest out of 50 largest cities)
> Total police budget for fiscal 2020: $536 million (11th largest)
> Total city budget for fiscal 2020: $2.93 billion (14th largest)
> Law enforcement employees per 100K: 487 (8th highest out of 634 cities with 65K +)
> Total law enforcement employees: 2,935 (2,488 officers, 447 civilian employees)
> Violent crimes reported per 100K in 2018: 1,833 (4th highest out of 634 cities of 65K +)

The Baltimore City Council voted to cut $22 million from the police budget in 2021, The Baltimore Sun reported. The mounted unit and the marine unit will be eliminated. The plan also calls for cutting the 2020 overtime spending of $40 million to $26 million in 2021. The police department had proposed a $7 million cut in overtime, but the council increased that to $14 million. Even with the cuts, Baltimore’s police budget will be about half a billion dollars.

Source: Photo By Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

Louisville/Jefferson County metro government (balance), Kentucky
> Population, 2018: 620,149
> Police dept. funding as % of total budget, fiscal year 2020: 25.2% (6th largest out of 50 largest cities)
> Total police budget for fiscal 2020: $190 million (10th smallest)
> Total city budget for fiscal 2020: $752.48 million (4th smallest)
> Law enforcement employees per 100K: 248 (157th highest out of 634 cities with 65K +)
> Total law enforcement employees: 1,538 (1,246 officers, 292 civilian employees)
> Violent crimes reported per 100K in 2018: No data

The Louisville Metro Police Department has been the focus of protests calling for officials to defund the police because of the killing of Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician who was shot eight times in her apartment as the police carried out a “no knock” warrant. Government officials, however, said they will not significantly decrease the amount of money spent on law enforcement, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.

Las Vegas, Nevada
> Population, 2018: 644,664
> Police dept. funding as % of total budget, fiscal year 2020: 44.9% (the largest out of 50 largest cities)
> Total police budget for fiscal 2021: $656 million (8th largest)
> Total city budget for fiscal 2021: $1.46 billion (17th smallest)
> Law enforcement employees per 100K: N/A
> Total law enforcement employees: N/A
> Violent crimes reported per 100K in 2018: No data

Confronting a potential $147 million budget shortfall over the next 16 months, Las Vegas recently cut its general fund budget for the next fiscal year by $124 million. To save money, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department laid off some part-time workers and its mounted patrol unit. The department’s long-term goal of providing two officers per every 1,000 residents could be in jeopardy due to the budget crunch.

Source: Brian Harkin / Getty Images News via Getty Images

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
> Population, 2018: 649,410
> Police dept. funding as % of total budget, fiscal year 2020: 13.6% (17th smallest out of 50 largest cities)
> Total police budget for fiscal 2021: $226 million (18th smallest)
> Total city budget for fiscal 2021: $1.66 billion (25th smallest)
> Law enforcement employees per 100K: 213 (236th highest out of 634 cities with 65K +)
> Total law enforcement employees: 1,382 (1,102 officers, 280 civilian employees)
> Violent crimes reported per 100K in 2018: 867 (60th highest out of 634 cities of 65K +)

In a tale of two cities, Oklahoma City and neighboring Norman responded differently to calls for defunding the police. While smaller Norman voted to cut $865,000 from its police budget in the next fiscal year, Oklahoma City Council approved its new budget without any cuts to police. Still, to save costs in a time of declining revenues, the budget reflects that 34 vacant police positions will go unfilled.

Source: Courtesy of Thomas R Machnitzki via Wikimedia Commons

Memphis, Tennessee
> Population, 2018: 650,632
> Police dept. funding as % of total budget, fiscal year 2020: 38.3% (2nd largest out of 50 largest cities)
> Total police budget for fiscal 2020: $273 million (23rd smallest)
> Total city budget for fiscal 2020: $711.56 million (3rd smallest)
> Law enforcement employees per 100K: 400 (21st highest out of 634 cities with 65K +)
> Total law enforcement employees: 2,605 (1,995 officers, 610 civilian employees)
> Violent crimes reported per 100K in 2018: 1,943 (2nd highest out of 634 cities of 65K +)

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland supports expansion of education and community programs, but not at the expense of the police department. He recently said law enforcement needs more officers who are better paid and better trained. In mid-June, a group of protesters camped out in front of City Hall. They pushed for the reallocation of some police funds and for the adoption of the “8 Can’t Wait” policies, which include de-escalation techniques and comprehensive reporting.