St. Louis spent $787 per resident on its police department in fiscal year 2012 — more than all but two other major cities in the U.S.
That's according to a just-released study from Wallet Hub
, which used Census Bureau data and departmental self-reporting to the FBI to determine how much 104 American cities spend on their police departments, and then analyze what kind of return they got on the investment.
St. Louis did pretty miserably by both standards. Our $787 expenditure higher was than any other major city in the U.S. except Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (which spent $800 per resident) and Washington, D.C., which spent a whopping $910.
And at the same time, we have a very high crime rate, as has been documented again and again
, to the point that even we nattering nabobs of negativism are sick of harping on it. High costs, high crime — by that metric, St. Louis' "return on investment" scored a dismal 103 out of 104 cities.
Now, all the usual caveats apply. One reason our crime rate is so high is that the city and county are separate — and without the nicer areas to balance it out, the city gets stuck with a disproportionately high rate of crime. So, too, do city residents get stuck shouldering a disproportionately high bill.
Beyond that, all the fracturing in the metro area (91 separate municipal governments!) means duplication of services. That's one reason groups like Better Together keep harping on the idea of consolidation — more coordination should make things less expensive for everyone, and get a better result to boot.
Perpetually troubled Oakland spent just $560 per resident. Los Angeles, which has a vast area to patrol and some challenging socioeconomic conditions, spent $594. Baltimore and Milwaukee, which share some of our difficult, mid-sized city problems, spent $598 and $470 respectively.
Clearly, we're doing something wrong.
The map below shows cities ranked from 1 to 104. Blue is good; orange is bad. You can see where we rank — and yeah, it's not good.
We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected]