A new study by the RAND Corp. indicates that reducing police personnel invites financial and social harm, according to the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL). While cutting police department budgets may save money in the long run, according to the study, it leads to increased tangible and intangible costs to society.

"Hidden in Plain Sight: What Cost-of-Crime Research Can Tell Us about Investing in Police," studied a proposal to increase the police force in Los Angeles, and a proposal to decrease it in Toledo, Ohio. In both cases, analysis showed the benefits of having additional officers and preventing crime outweigh the personnel costs, according to the study. "This study confirms that public safety is an investment that pays huge dividends, both financially and socially," said LAPPL President Paul Weber. "We know that an effective police presence reduces crime. That has now been quantified to show that the expansion of the Los Angeles Police Department has actually generated about $475 million in crime reduction benefits. This is vital information for city leaders to consider as they work through the current city budget crisis, and should guide them as they try to avoid both economic and social damage in any budget cuts."

The study advices policymakers to consider both the tangible costs, such as a victim's medical bills or lost productivity, as well as the intangible costs, such as a reduced quality of life in a crime-ridden neighborhood. The study estimated that in 2006, serious crime cost the residents of Los Angeles $6.35 billion. "The RAND report provides an outstanding summary of leading academic research on the cost of crime and the effectiveness of police in preventing crime," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement. "It is an excellent tool for the LAPD and city officials to use in making tough decisions on investments in public safety."

See ordering information on "Hidden in Plain Sight."

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