Beginning with a referendum in 2000, city administrators began singing the cost-saving serenade, and on January 6, 2003 city police merged with the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County.After reassigning the responsibilities and reassessing needs, the number of patrol divisions was reduced from 10 to eight, and the number of beats fell from 51 to 44.
At a conference on police consolidation held in 2011 at Michigan State University, Conrad recalled that although the metro mayor touted “the synergy of merger: ten people here, ten people there, they could work more efficiently together,” the department actually ended up hiring “15 or 20 here, and 15 or 20 there.”In fact, the merger was a budgetary disaster.
Conrad estimated that consolidation cost about $85 million.
New communication equipment cost nearly $70 million and allowances for new healthcare plans and other benefits ended up costing another $10 million. The consolidation math doesn’t add up, but the harsh economic realities don’t appear until years after the consolidation is bought and paid for — literally.
Louis, Missouri, to Salt Lake City, Utah, the merging of law enforcement moves along, applauded by a coterie of city leaders and well-meaning citizens.
Nationwide, towns and cities are jumping on the consolidation bandwagon.
According to the latest data, there are about 18,000 state and local law-enforcement agencies in the United States.
Of those, more than 150 have undergone some level of consolidation.
Those pushing for the consolidation of police forces into regional or metropolitan agencies typically cite budget shortfalls as the best reason for closing down local forces and combining resources to form a consolidated force.
Typically, the austerity argument goes like this: If Town A spends million on police services, Town B spends million, and Town C spends million, wouldn’t it make more sense to streamline those services by creating a combined force that is smaller and costs less?