Raw Data: Cops and Crime

I don’t have a lot to say about this, but in the midst of the campaign to defund the police¹ I got curious about the number of police officers nationwide during the past three decades of declining crime rates. This turns out to be sort of tricky, but Daniel Bier (here and here) has done a pretty good job of estimating the number of local police officers nationally:

The violent crime rate has fallen by half since its peak in 1992, but the number of police officers per capita has stayed nearly flat. This divergence is even more dramatic in places like Los Angeles and New York City, where the crime rate has fallen by about 75 percent since 1992.

As I said, I don’t have any big point to make. I was just curious to see if we had taken advantage of the lead-driven decline in crime to save money on policing. Apparently not.

¹A bit of a misnomer. With a few exceptions, most of the proponents of defunding the police only want to cut police funding, not eliminate it.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate