The rate of crimes is believed to depend on geographic area and police force distribution. Sewell Chan discussed this issue in The New York Times article titled “Counting heads along the thin blue line,” published in March 2006. The author of this article asks an important question about the optimal size of a police department. The statistics about the correlation between the number of crimes and police officers is controversial (Chan, 2006). According to Chan (2006), New York City expanded the Police Department in 1993, which resulted in a significant drop in crime level. Furthermore, the author states that the number of homicides in Washington decreased in 2005 due to recruiting more police officers (Chan, 2006). Although Chan admits that it is challenging to predict the necessary size of police departments based on population number, the article’s conclusion states that reduced crime rates are not caused by increased staff. The author seems to agree that this picture was created by data misrepresentation. However, increasing the number of police officers and effective tactics can contribute to the decrease in felonies because it will allow officers to have a work-life balance and higher productivity.
Expanding the police forces can help minimize the number of crimes. Although the reduction of felonies and crimes in some cities was reported to be due to an increase in the number of police officers, some people claim that bias in reporting and statistics exists (Buil-Gil et al., 2021). However, data accuracy is affected by many confounding factors, such as the willingness of citizens to cooperate, people’s opinions about police forces, and the social status of people in specific geographic areas (Buil-Gil et al., 2021). Therefore, I think that it is hard to determine if crime reduction in a particular region is the result of underreporting or improved work efficiency of the police department. Still, as Chan (2006) mentioned, police officers are also human beings that need rest and emotional support. When they work long hours without proper breaks, they become exhausted and less productive. Furthermore, more duties, absence of time out, and low payment may lead to corruption (Chan, 2006). Thus, I think it is reasonable to suggest that recruiting more staff will decrease workload and pressure from officers, resulting in better performance at their duties.
To sum up, Chan’s article explores the need to increase the number of police officers to decrease the crime rate and strives to find the correlation between crime rates and the size of police departments. Although some cities like New York and Washington report significant reductions in crimes and felonies, many people still state that this statistical data is inaccurate. However, it is challenging to determine if crime rates are lower due to a higher number of officers or people’s resistance to report and communicate with police. Therefore, the article’s author may be partly right by concluding that the expansion of departments is not practical. Still, it is essential to highlight that shortage of staff is also not effective because it results in mental and physical exhaustion among police officers, whose productivity will be severely affected by enormous workload. Therefore, finding the right balance between recruiting more officers and improving the management of their work can diminish unlawful acts and change the perception of police forces to ensure better collaboration between citizens and police.
Buil-Gil, D., Moretti, A., & Langton, S. H. (2021). The accuracy of crime statistics: Assessing the impact of police data bias on geographic crime analysis. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 1-27. Web.
Chan, S. (2006). Counting heads along the thin blue line. The New York Times. Web.