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SD law enforcement spending continues to rise

Posted: 12:22 PM, Dec 16, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-16 20:25:06Z
SAN DIEGO -- Government agencies in the San Diego region spent $1.96 billion combined on law enforcement in the 2014-15 fiscal year, up 2 percent from the year before and 11 percent higher than five years ago, according to figures released Wednesday.
  
It's the fourth straight year that expenditures increased for non-fire public safety.
  
"These increases are due in part to the region's strengthening economy and higher labor costs," said Cynthia Burke, the San Diego Association of Governments' criminal justice research director.
  
"They are also due to an infusion of state funding intended to help local agencies address the impact of AB 109 -- the state's prison realignment," he said.
  
The law kept many offenders in local jails, rather than state prison, and added $65.3 million to 2014-15 law enforcement expenses, according to SANDAG.
  
The report found that about one-third of the general funds for all incorporated cities in San Diego County with their own police departments were dedicated to law enforcement costs.
  
However, the figures varied widely between agencies -- and also by how they're viewed.
  
El Cajon and Escondido apportioned more of their general funds – 43 percent -- to their police departments than other cities, SANDAG reported.
  
Coronado was on the low side at 20 percent. However, when taken as a per capita expense, Coronado's was by far the highest, spending $435 per resident on its police department.
  
El Cajon and Escondido were actually among the least expensive per capita, at $268 and $253, respectively.
  
Almost half -- 47 percent -- of public safety dollars spent in FY 2014-15 were allocated for police or sheriff activities, with the other half divided across the six remaining categories -- corrections, court-related costs, prosecution, probation and public defenders.
  
Among other notable facts in the report:
  
-- $616 per resident was spent for law enforcement in FY 2014-2015 in San Diego County.
-- In the last five years, some of the largest expenditure increases went to public defenders, and probation field services and administration. 
- Across the region, there were 1.31 sworn officers per 1,000 residents, unchanged for the second straight year and well below the recent national figure of 2.3 per 1,000 residents. 
-- During the past five years, the ratio of sworn officers-to-population decreased for more than half of the region's law enforcement agencies.
  
Chula Vista had the fewest police officers per 1,000 residents among local cities with their own police departments at 0.93. Coronado had the most at 1.88.
  
San Diego, with the region's biggest population and largest police department, had 1.5 officers per 1,000 residents, according to SANDAG.