Over the past four decades, the cost of policing in the U.S. has almost tripled, from $42.3 billion in 1977 to $114.5 billion in 2017, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data conducted by the Urban Institute on behalf of Bloomberg Businessweek.
Despite the rising dollar amounts, policing has consistently made up about 3.7% of state and local budgets since the 1970s. However, crime has been trending downward for years: Violent crime and property crime have fallen significantly since the early 1990s, according to U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics data.
The disconnect between police funding and crime rates is a sign of the need to reform the system, advocates say. “It doesn’t make sense that the NYPD budget increases year over year,” says Jennvine Wong, staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s Cop Accountability Project in New York City.