Sometimes the popular mantra about “doing more with less” simply doesn’t work. This commentary by a former mayor and published in Governing magazine asks the question, “How low can you go in public safety?” Sometimes budget savings can’t be made up for by finding efficiencies. Sometimes quality suffers and, in the case of public safety, that can mean lives are lost.
How many cops—or lifeguards—is too few? Essentially the only way to tell when you’re not spending enough on public safety is when it’s too late—bad things are happening. The Bannister Mall area in Kansas City was a flourishing retail and residential area in the 1990s, but an uptick in crime drove away shoppers. The first anchor store closed in 2000, and the rest left soon afterward. The mall was eventually demolished, and today the area is desolate.