Exploitative Revenues, Law Enforcement, and the Quality of Government Service

August 2018
By Rebecca Goldstein, PhD, Michael W. Sances, PhD, and Hye Young You, PhD, in the Urban Affairs Review
This study examines whether revenue collection activities compromise the criminal investigation functions of local police departments and finds that reliance on fee and fine revenue correlates is correlated with lower crime closure rates. The results suggest that institutional changes—such as decreasing municipal government reliance on fines and fees for revenue—are important for changing police behavior and improving the provision of public safety.

Key findings include:

  • Police departments in cities that collect a greater share of their revenue from fees and fines solve violent and property crimes at significantly lower rates. 
  • The effect on violent crime clearance is stronger in smaller cities where police officers’ assignments tend not to be highly specialized.