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In today's @bopinion post I discuss whether the police should be de-funded.…
On one hand, spending on police has remained very constant as a percent of state and local spending over the decades, always between 4.3% and 5%.

So it's not like the cops are devouring ever more of city budgets.
BUT, those state and local budgets have gone up and up. And police spending has risen right along with them. Why??
(Also remember that unfunded pension liabilities are a form of hidden spending, and have also increased.)
Crime has gone way down in this country since the 90s, yet we keep spending more money on police.

And many cities with low crime rates spend as much of their budgets on police as cities with high murder rates.

Why should Minneapolis be spending more than Baltimore??
Meanwhile, researchers find that although more spending on police does tend to decrease crime rates, growth in police spending is largely uncorrelated with actual growth in crime!

Maybe it's just inertia. Maybe cities and states just reserve a constant share of their budgets for the cops, and don't think about it too much.

Or, maybe police unions are politically powerful, and always manage to take their cut.
Police unions have other downsides too. Many believe that they exacerbate police brutality by making it harder to hold bad cops accountable.…
And here's some more info on the ways police unions can make policing worse.
Eliminating collective bargaining for police could potentially help reestablish a link between police spending and actual need, while also helping to curb police abuses.
In general, America needs stronger unions, but the police might be an exception. They already have so much power. Maybe the extra power of government-protected collective bargaining is just too much.
Anyway, the question of whether to de-fund the police will never be easy. Hiring more police really does tend to decrease crime, even as it means more chances for police brutality, all else equal.

Each city needs to make that decision on its own.

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