When it comes to how many police officers a community should have, is there a right number?
There are no federal or state — or even local — mandates for how many officers provide optimal protection and service. The International Association of Chiefs of Police in a recent patrol staffing and deployment study states plainly:
"Ready-made, universally applicable patrol staffing standards do not exist. Ratios, such as officers-per-thousand population, are totally inappropriate as a basis for staffing decisions."
Instead, the study says needs should be determined by a number of different factors, including:
- Number of calls for service
- Population size, density and composition
- Citizen demands for protective services
- Municipal resources
Menomonee Falls Police Chief Anna Ruzinski echoed the observations about staffing presented in the report. She said statistics don't illustrate the entire picture when it comes to staffing her department. Countless other variables effect the need for officers in each community. She said the number of officers in Menomonee Falls adequately serves the more than 30,000 residents.
“I do believe that the Menomonee Falls Police Department has adequate staffing to create a safe environment. I look at reports with police per capita and people need to realize that there are other variables. You can’t look at those alone to view if there is adequate staffing in a communities," Ruzinski said.
Use this searchable database on Patch to compare the police staffing levels in other communities of similar population size in Wisconsin.
Data is from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Crime in the United States report, which incorporates information reported to the FBI by law enforcement agencies. This report covers 2011.