Last summer, the Baltimore Police Department told the Baltimore Sun that it had about one-sixth fewer officers than it needed to adequately patrol the city’s streets. But according to Governing magazine, Baltimore’s 2,962-strong law enforcement force means that there are 47.4 officers for every 10,000 residents — a police-to-population rate that’s higher than any other city in the country besides Washington, DC.
Nationwide, cities with populations over 50,000 average just 17 officers per 10,000 residents, meaning that Baltimore has more than twice the police presence of most cities. We also tend to spend more on our police force than comparable cities.
Governing notes that cities with crime problems tend to have larger police forces–no duh. Other factors influencing the size of the police force include call volume, size of jurisdiction, need for patrols, and the size of the budget.
But the real question is, does Baltimore’s larger-than-average police presence mean that we should expect less crime? Not exactly: “For the most part, research suggests that the effect of hiring additional officers plateaus once staffing reaches a certain point,” Governing notes.
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