Police Departments Lack Money for Training

July 5, 2013

Budget cuts across the State of Florida have limited local police department's ability to properly train its officers. Money for training partially comes from a law enforcement training trust fund. The fund itself is at a all-time low. While the economy in Florida is continuing to improve, law enforcement agencies are beginning to recover. Despite the recovery, the number of felony arrests have been declining over the last couple of years. Miami criminal defense law firms will confirm this fact. Police departments claim that crime rates are dropping due to their efforts. What they don't tell you is that are making less arrests due to less funding. Police officers are receiving little or not overtime and have no incentive to make arrests.

Police departments in the Florida rely heavily on the training trusts fund to properly train their officers. The trust fund is supplied by court costs from across the state. Since there are fewer arrests being made, the amount of costs collected by the court system has declined. A recently generated report stated that the legislation has raised the fines attached to traffic violations. Police officers are aware of the increases and have become more reluctant to issue traffic citations out of pity for the drivers. According to police departments, the training budgets are approximately one third of what they were just a few years ago.

Police officers routinely receive specialized training regarding certain crimes. For example officers used to receive additional training for criminal offenses such as identity theft, computer offense, sex offenses, drug enforcement, burglaries and homicides. The budget cuts have resulted in a sharp decrease in felony arrests. In 2012, there was less than 150,000 felony arrests than there was in 2008. Additionally, there were 700,000 less traffic citations issued than before the fines were increased. Experts blame the cut in funding for the reduced numbers. However, budget cuts have also cut the amount of overtime police officers receive. The officers are not as motivated to make arrests if they will not receive additional money for appearing in court.

The budgets in the state have become so constricted that money normally earmarked for the training trust fund have been diverted to other areas deemed more important by the legislature. Police officials are concerned that their officers are not receiving the proper training to effectively combat complex criminal cases such as human trafficking and internet and cybercrimes. Police officers are also not receiving the proper training in basis skills such as DUI training (properly operating breathalyzers) and handling evidence. While the cuts negatively effect law enforcement's ability to properly fight crimes, this of course benefits those arrested on felony and misdemeanor charges alike. Police agencies have reported that their officers are receiving about half the training they received in the past. Smaller jurisdictions are having more problems facing the cuts. Larger agencies are more easily able to divert funds and apportion them to training.

Less Crime Leads to Bigger Budget Problems, CBS4.com, July 3, 2013.