A budget analysis for police departments in nearby communities or comparable areas in any state can prove invaluable to both new and existing police departments. For example, cost considerations are a major part of the strategic analysis that a small community must complete before setting up its own police department. Existing police departments can use budgetary allocations for reference and comparison during annual budget planning sessions. Finding this information isn’t difficult once you know where to look.

Sources and Expenditures

In most communities, the police department budget includes funds generated within the community via taxes, bonds, forfeitures and private donations as well as benefits from a variety of federal and state grants. Labor costs, including salaries and benefits, typically consume the largest portion. Liability insurance, equipment purchases, maintenance and replacement costs, training, facilities expenses and administrative expenses, including background investigations for all new hires, make up the remainder of most budgets.

Access City Websites

Police department budgets are just one part of the annual budget for a city or town. Access the home page for any city and locate the finance department or agency label in the main navigation menu or look for the finance division in a city organizational chart and click on the budget section. Most often, you’ll find links to both the budget for the current year and previous years. If navigating through the city website is too confusing, type the city and state, the term “budget” and the year you’re looking for in a search engine.

Locate the Police Budget

Look in the table of contents to find the police department budget. The budget most likely will span numerous pages, each containing specific cost breakdowns. For example, the 2014 budget for Green Bay, Wisconsin, includes cost breakdowns according to fund, department and division as well as background information from previous years. From start to finish, the police department budget consumes 10 pages of a 212-page city budget.

Revenue Source Identification

A policing services budget typically won’t identify the revenue source in the detailed budget section, and some won’t identify it at all. To find this information, look for a general revenue and expense summary. For example, the 2014 summary for Appleton, Wisconsin, shows that the police department received a state grant for $121,434 for a program called the “Beat grant” as well as grants from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the State and Federal Department Office of Justice Assistance.