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.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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