The 15 Most 'Underpoliced' Cities In America

gary indianaGary, Indiana

Photo: samuelalove on flickr

Cities that cut police budgets to save costs may be shooting themselves in the foot.A recent study by Aaron Chaflin and Justin McCrary at UC Berkeley found that for every dollar spent on police, the average U.S. city can expect about $1.60 in reduced crime costs.

“Our estimates suggest that if you increase police officers by 10 per cent, you can get something like a 5 per cent reduction in cost of crime,” McCrary told The Baltimore Sun. “For cities with a high level of crime, where police are relatively inexpensive, that’s a tradeoff a city should be willing to make.”

The benefits of increased police spending vary greatly by city.

Some places are actually overpoliced, including small, low-poverty cities like Sunnyvale, Calif. and Waltham, Mass. Other places are drastically underpoliced, like Gary, Ind., where $1 in police spending could save $14 in crime reduction.

Chalfin and McCrary collected data spanning from 1960-2010 for 242 cities that have at least 50,000 residents. The researchers calculated victimization costs by taking into account direct costs of crimes, such as the value of a stolen car, as well as emotional costs.

#15 Richmond, Calif.

Each additional $1 spent on police could reduce crime by $3.60.

Population: 103,701

Average cost of crime per person per year: $3,010

Source: The Effect of Police on Crime

#14 Richmond, Va.

Each additional $1 spent on police could reduce crime by $3.60.

Population: 204,214

Average cost of crime per person per year: $2,614

Source: The Effect of Police on Crime

#13 Macon. Ga.

Each additional $1 spent on police could reduce crime by $3.70.

Population: 91,351

Average cost of crime per person per year: $1,774

Source: The Effect of Police on Crime

#12 San Bernardino, Calif.

Each additional $1 spent on police could reduce crime by $3.70.

Population: 209,924

Average cost of crime per person per year: $1,969

Source: The Effect of Police on Crime

#11 Pontiac, Mich.

Each additional $1 spent on police could reduce crime by $3.80.

Population: 59,515

Average cost of crime per person per year: $1,918

Source: The Effect of Police on Crime

#10 St. Louis, Mo.

Each additional $1 spent on police could reduce crime by $3.90.

Population: 319,294

Average cost of crime per person per year: $3,486

Source: The Effect of Police on Crime

#9 Baton Rouge, La.

Each additional $1 spent on police could reduce crime by $4.30.

Population: 229,493

Average cost of crime per person per year: $2,286

Source: The Effect of Police on Crime

#8 Jackson, Miss.

Each additional $1 spent on police could reduce crime by $4.80.

Population: 173,514

Average cost of crime per person per year: $2,198

Source: The Effect of Police on Crime

#7 Birmingham, Ala.

Each additional $1 spent on police could reduce crime by $4.80.

Population: 212,237

Average cost of crime per person per year: $3,106

Source: The Effect of Police on Crime

#6 Detroit, Mich.

Each additional $1 spent on police could reduce crime by $5.00.

Population: 713,777

Average cost of crime per person per year: $3,691

Source: The Effect of Police on Crime

#5 Youngstown, Ohio

Each additional $1 spent on police could reduce crime by $5.60.

Population: 66,982

Average cost of crime per person per year: $3,057

Source: The Effect of Police on Crime

#4 Saginaw, Mich.

Each additional $1 spent on police could reduce crime by $5.90.

Population: 51,508

Average cost of crime per person per year: $2,970

Source: The Effect of Police on Crime

#3 Flint, Mich.

Each additional $1 spent on police could reduce crime by $7.50.

Population: 102,434

Average cost of crime per person per year: $3,291

Source: The Effect of Police on Crime

#2 New Orleans, La.

Each additional $1 spent on police could reduce crime by $8.20.

Population: 343,829

Average cost of crime per person per year: $4,376

Source: The Effect of Police on Crime

#1 Gary, Ind.

Each additional $1 spent on police could reduce crime by $14.00.

Population: 80,294

Average cost of crime per person per year: $4,376

Source: The Effect of Police on Crime

But does underpoliced actually mean dangerous?

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