Report: Over the last 3 decades, Wisconsin municipalities’ biggest expense was police departments

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MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin municipalities’ biggest expense over the last three decades has been police departments. That’s according to a new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

The report found that in every year from 1986 to 2018 law enforcement was the biggest municipal spending category in the state. Municipalities spent about $1.28 billion on law enforcement in 2018, up from $353 million in 1986.

The state’s overall crime rate fell nearly 55% over that period, although violent crime rose. The report cautions there’s not necessarily a relationship between more spending on police and decreasing crime, noting police also respond to medical emergencies and staff events.

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