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Police costs in Southern California: By the numbers

In raw, inflation-adjusted dollars, some Southern California cities more than doubled spending on law enforcement over a recent 16-year period, according to data examined by the Southern California News Group.

From 2003 to 2018, spending climbed 185% in Laguna Woods, 127% in Lake Elsinore, 123% in Temecula, 122% in Murrieta and 105% in Coachella.

Other big jumps in raw-dollar spending were logged by Laguna Beach (81%), Big Bear Lake (70%), Newport Beach (68%), Glendale (66%), Laguna Niguel (60%), Irvine and Dana Point (53%), Anaheim and Signal Hill (52%), and Pasadena (45%).

Many cities saw smaller-than-average increases in raw-dollar spending. They include Torrance, San Clemente, Seal Beach and Orange (33%), Fullerton and Los Angeles (29%), Long Beach (23%), San Bernardino (22%), Riverside (21%), Santa Ana (20%), Huntington Beach (18%), Costa Mesa (12%), Placentia (9%) and Westminster (4%).

Three dozen cities, mostly in Northern and Central California, actually saw police spending decrease in raw dollars, In Southern California, that included La Mirada, Carson, El Monte, Cerritos, La Palma, Hawthorne and Maywood, more than half of which are served by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

What slice of the pie

Beyond raw dollars, another way to consider police spending is this: How big a slice of the city’s spending pie does it get, and how has that changed over time?

On average, California cities devoted 25% of operational spending to policing in 2003, rising to 34% in 2018. But some cities had much more dramatic increases.

In San Bernardino, policing’s slice of the spending pie increased from 27% to 55%; in Laguna Woods, from 16% to 43%; Riverside, 16% to 37%; Anaheim, 13% to 34%; Los Angeles, 19% to 38%; Torrance, 24% to 42%; Huntington Beach, 24% to 41%; Long Beach, 17% to 32%.

Even though raw-dollar spending usually increased, more than two dozen Southern California cities actually saw policing’s slice of the spending pie shrink over those years, including Dana Point, San Gabriel, Rolling Hills Estates, La Habra Heights, San Dimas, La Mirada, El Monte, Irvine, Lake Elsinore, Desert Hot Springs, Lake Forest, Irwindale, Aliso Viejo, Twentynine Palms, Carson, Walnut, Montclair, Laguna Niguel, La Palma, Cudahy, Diamond Bar, Cypress, Moreno Valley, Murrieta, Stanton, Hesperia, Monrovia, Canyon Lake and Maywood.

Source: Orange County Register

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