Monday, December 28, 2009
"With runoff campaigns now focused on the crime issue, we are likely to hear the inevitable rhetoric about police resources. Undoubtedly we will hear the most worn-out line in politics, that we need more 'boots on the ground.' If our approach is no more sophisticated than that, we're likely to continue to have the same lackluster results on crime. ... Second, we have already been increasing police funding significantly. Since 2002, HPD's budget has risen from $443 million to $675 million this year. That is almost a 7 percent year-over-year average increase, about twice the rate of inflation over the same period. Such increases would be somewhat understandable if the size of the department were growing to meet the city's growing population, but that is not the case. ... Nor has the increased funding resulted in any more crimes being solved. In 2002, HPD cleared a little more than 22,000 so-called Part I crimes. A case is cleared when an arrest is made and charges filed. Part I crimes are those designated by the FBI as more serious offenses. ... So in 2002 we got one Part I crime solved for every $20,000 we invested in the department. In 2008, that cost had gone up to nearly $33,000. ... However, there is one recurring theme I have encountered in my research on this subject, and that is the size of a department's investigative force. While the public generally believes that more officers on patrol will deter crime, most of the studies show that more patrols have little effect on the overall crime rate. Like squeezing a closed tube of toothpaste, patrols may move the crime to different areas, but the total amount does not change much. ... One of the principal reasons the clearance rate for burglary is low is that few cases are actually investigated. One detective told me that about one in 20 is seriously investigated", Bill King at the Houston Chronicle, 29 November 2009, link: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/6743415.html.
Boys and girls, the real world of police work is: summary arrest or no arrest in 90+% of cases. No, it's not Gary Sinese and CSI New York out there.