Jacksonville, FL

Here is a look inside the most recently adopted budget in Jacksonville. You can use the calculator below to adjust each budget line to see how dollars allocated to the police could be reduced. The numbers included below represent monies coming from the city’s general fund alone. There may be additional funding sources—federal, state, or local—that were not clearly noted in the police department’s section of the city’s budget book. (You can learn more about Vera’s data sources and methods here.)

Calculate how your city could save money on policing

City budgets can be notoriously opaque documents and difficult to compare across municipalities. Budgets include the city’s anticipated expenditures and revenues (money coming in from taxes, fines and fees, state and federal funds, etc.) for functions such as sanitation, parks, libraries, roads, and, of course, policing. The general fund typically represents unrestricted revenues that can be used for any legal purpose.

Spending on policing overwhelmingly comes from the general fund. While a budget reflects a municipality’s political and moral priorities, police spending can be very difficult to cut given the strength of police unions.

For each city, we have compiled FY2020 data about the adopted budget and spending on policing. Explore the data and calculate how much the city could have saved if it made different allocations.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to re-envisioning public safety. However, limiting police interactions and investing in community-based interventions are crucial to providing for public safety in a way that’s less intrusive, more just, and more constructive. By reducing the size and budget of the police department, those savings can be invested in creating alternatives to policing, reengineering 911 systems so that the police aren’t the first responders to every call, and funding community-based programs, education, housing, jobs, and more.

Police spending over the years

Police departments have not always been as expensive as they are now. Vera pulled data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) on the number of city dollars spent by police departments each year from 1982 to 2016, the most recent year available. The graphs below show these numbers adjusted for inflation. Note that the number of dollars spent during a year is often substantially different from the amount originally approved in the budget.

The numbers presented in these graphs should be understood as the minimum amount spent and do not represent the true size of police operations. Some cities—most notably New York City—spend money on specific policing costs (such as staff benefits) through budget lines that are not captured in BJS’s methodology. Furthermore, the graphs below do not include federal and state dollars spent on local policing, which account for around 14 percent of police department spending.

Overpolicing communities of color

The growth of police budgets and departmental expenditures do not make communities safer. Instead, this allows police departments to increase force size, militarize equipment, and sustain high arrest rates—practices that are unjustifiable given the non-serious, nonviolent nature of the vast majority of incidents that police respond to. This is not an approach that prioritizes public safety; it is an approach that criminalizes and oppresses people of color, especially Black people.

Nationally, more than 10.5 million arrests are made each year; 83 percent of these arrests are for non-serious non-violent crimes—instances that rarely require police presence. Although overpolicing is a national epidemic, the burden falls on communities of color, who are disproportionately targeted. Black people are arrested at a rate 2.26 times higher than white people.

The Jacksonville Police Department does not release arrest data to the National FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR) database—the only standardized, national source of policing data available and the data from which arrest statistics in this database were pulled. All police departments should be required to regularly and publicly report data. To promote this kind of transparency and accountability, you can call on your local police department and elected officials to publicly report data to the UCR.