From 1989 to 2010, police seized $12.6 billion worth of property and cash through asset forfeiture. The amount seized has been growing exponentially. In 2014 alone, Federal law enforcement agencies alone managed to seize $4.5 billion worth of property and currency. State and local police are taking in another half billion or so each year, making the total seized in a given year somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 billion.
The police write about $6.2 billion in speeding tickets every year in the US. One in five US drivers will receive a ticket every year, for a total of 41 million tickets written. Each police officer writes $300,000 in traffic tickets each year. The police have admitted that traffic tickets are used as a fundraising tool.
There are 12,000 local police departments in the United States, and the combined budgets of them and Federal law enforcement come to just over $126 billion each year.
According to the FBI, there were 8.9 million property crimes for 2012 in the US, meaning that there were 4 times more traffic stops than there were thefts. Burglars managed to steal $3.9 billion in property. Larceny, the most common property crime, cost the public $4.7 billion in 2012.
In fact, the total cost of all property crime for 2012 was about $12.6 billion. That includes Auto theft, robbery, burglary, shoplifting, all of it. Everything stolen by criminals.
Let’s run the totals (all figures in billions of US dollars):
Police cost is:
Budgeted costs: 126
Asset forfeiture: 5
Traffic tickets: 6.2
Total cost of US policing: $137.2 billion per year
Property crime: $12.6 billion per year.
The conclusion here is obvious: The financial cost of police is simply too high. We are wasting our money. In fact, if police were eliminated and all crime was 10 times worse than it is now, we would still be saving money.
Does this mean that I am advocating that we eliminate police? Of course not. What it means is that we must look at how we are spending our law enforcement dollar, and realize that our police are far too focused on fundraising activities instead of preventing crime and actually catching criminals.