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SANDAG Releases New Public Safety Report

May 5, 2022

The latest SANDAG public safety report, Public Safety Allocations in the San Diego Region: Expenditures and Staffing for FY 2020-21, found that the San Diego region spent $2.45 billion on public safety in the 2021 Fiscal Year, a 3% decrease from the previous year when accounting for inflation. In many cases, decreases in spending can be attributed to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as fewer large events to police and manage, and frozen city budgets and salaries.

'This report reflects the latest information on public safety spending in the San Diego region,” said SANDAG Senior Director of Data Science Dr. Cynthia Burke. “SANDAG is uniquely positioned to gather data across all jurisdictions to help inform decision makers and community leaders who continue to examine public safety strategies and discussions on how to best serve the region today and for future generations.”

According to the SANDAG report, nearly all of the region’s public safety agencies described taking precautionary budget measures to counteract the potential impacts of the pandemic on future sales tax revenues and budgets. This included enacting temporary hiring freezes and reducing or eliminating expenses.

Notable report findings include:

• Half of public safety expenditures went to local law enforcement; the other half spent was on corrections, courts, prosecution, probation, public defense, and other general functions

• Public safety expenditures decreased in all categories except public defenders, which increased by 3% from 2020

• The $2.45 billion spent on public safety functions in FY 21 equates to about $734 spent for every resident in the San Diego region

• In jurisdictions that have their own police departments, roughly one in every three (33%) general fund dollars was dedicated to law enforcement

• The region’s average sworn officer-to-population ratio was 1.29, significantly lower than the most recent national figure (2.4).

The annual SANDAG report analyzes how dollars are spent across the San Diego region’s criminal justice system over time and how jurisdictions allocate dollars for law enforcement.

These data are used by local law enforcement, policy makers, and community leaders to examine public safety trends, and the effectiveness of prevention and response efforts on regional crime rates. SANDAG is the only local entity to compile and analyze these statistics across the 18 incorporated cities and the unincorporated areas of the county.

For a full breakdown of expenditures by jurisdiction view the report, Public Safety Allocations in the San Diego Region: Expenditures and Staffing for FY 2020-21.

Project Manager(s)

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or pio@sandag.org.