2020 State of the Industry Projection Summary

Dec. 17, 2019
Have you ever wondered what other agencies similar to yours are doing about budget planning, increases, decreases, expenditures and more?

Have you ever wondered what other agencies similar to yours are doing about various topics when it comes to budget planning, increases, decreases, expenditures and more? Sure, you can do some research and find information on the State of the Industry three years ago, but does that help you make your case to the city, county or state when you’re asking for budget dollars for X? To assist in supporting your argument for those needs, Officer Media Group has performed a survey specifically asking law enforcement leadership what they foresee coming in the 2020 budget year. By mining the data in the responses we were able to give you a summary that can support your budget requests and needs statements.

The survey consisted of 59 questions, several of which were only identification questions so that those participating could get a copy of the full data analysis report. Those responses are obviously left out here. As you consider the information shared in this survey summary, you need to know a few things about those respondents though. You need to know what rank and position they hold (or held when they answered the survey), how big their agency is, the size of the community they serve and more. Let’s dive in.

67% of all respondents indicated that they felt they would see budget increases for the 2020 budget year.

As we distributed the survey we knew we couldn’t limit the responses only to leaders in the agencies so we included rank options below sergeant. However, for the sake of this summary, what you’re getting in the information from those who responded that they hold the rank of sergeant or above. Approximately 75% of our respondents fit in that rank category. If you take out the Sergeants, you have 56% of the respondents remaining. Now, before you dismiss the opinions and responses of Sergeants out of hand, remember that a lot of agencies are comparatively small and a Sergeant may well be third or fourth in command; the equivalent of a Captain or Lieutenant at other larger agencies.

In that vein, we asked what size each agency was that responded, specifically in number of sworn officers. The largest number of respondents were from agencies numbering under 50 sworn officers in strength. Those agencies represented 59% of our responses. Roughly 9% represented agencies between 51 to 100 sworn, with another 9% from agencies between 101 to 250 sworn. The number drop off after that although we did have one response from an agency with over 25K sworn officers.

When asked if they expected the sworn strength to change in the coming budget year, 74% of those indicated that they expected growth of less than 5% with about 7% expecting growth between 6 to 10%. That the industry is seeing growth in sworn strength is a strong indicator of the state of the industry in general.

As to current duty assignment, 29% responded that they are currently working in Administration or headquarters assignments; 22% responded that they work in or in command of the patrol division and 12% listed themselves as Executive/Command. If you combine those three, that’s roughly two-thirds of all respondents that are in command positions within their agency.

Eighty percent of our respondents stated that they are in some form of management, supervisory or command position. That is based on the response from 20% who reported themselves as a line officer. Every other respondent was either a commander, supervisor, manager or department head.

It is no secret that the majority of police departments are municipal and that the majority of sheriff’s offices are county. Our responses upheld that as 56% of respondents said they work for a municipal agency and 26% said they work for a county agency. The remaining 18% were spread out among state, federal, military, campus, health/medical, transit, private and “other” agencies.

When asked about the size of the community served, we found it interesting that our respondents seemed to fall into one of five large community size categories. The largest respondent group works for an agency that serves a jurisdiction with a population between 50K to 100K citizens. Those are fairly large cities. The next three groups were tied serving population sizes that included 5K to 10K, 10K to 25K and over 1M (that’s an M for “million”). Those population sizes account for roughly half of our respondent groups with the remainder spread out in jurisdiction sizes as small as 2.5K or less and up to 1M.

As a matter of general demographics among sworn officers, the answers indicated that roughly 86% of officers are male and most officers range in age between 25 to 45.

With that identifying information available about our respondents, we hope you can see the value of the information provided. The largest majority of respondents are part of their agency’s command staff and work in some part of the administration or executive section of their agency. They are uniquely qualified to have insight into and information about what the next budget year will hold. And it’s important that for some of them “the next budget year” has already begun. Some of the larger agencies run their budget year congruent to the federal budget which started October 1, 2019 and will run through the end of September 2020. Other agency budgets run the calendar year and will begin January 1, 2020. Yet others, and the farthest out with perhaps the weakest insights, won’t start until July 1, 2020 when they begin their 2020-2021 budget year. Keep all of that in mind as you read this next response.

Sixty-seven percent of all respondents indicated that they felt they would see budget increases for the 2020 budget year. If nothing else in this survey summary catches your eye, that one piece of information should be welcome and easily used to leverage arguments as you prepare for your budget requests. Two-thirds of all respondent agencies indicate they expect a budget increase for their agency. It’s also very important to note that just because an agency doesn’t anticipate growth, it doesn’t necessarily anticipate shrinkage or reduction. The possibility of an agency budget staying static from this budget year to the next is also a possibility.

Of those agencies anticipating budget growth, they were asked where they anticipated allocating those new budget dollars. The top four answers, in order of percentage, were Salary, Training, Fleet and Other Equipment. When you try to figure out what “Other Equipment” may be, understand that the following were listed as options for where the new budget dollars would go. “Other Equipment” shouldn’t be any of these: Uniforms, Firearms, Less-Lethal Tools and Community Outreach. (For those few agencies that indicated an anticipated reduction in budget, “Other Equipment” was also the number one thing that was to be cut.)

When asked specifically about equipment, we tried to glean information about handguns as far as manufacturer, caliber and whether or not replacement was anticipated in the coming budget year. The responses indicated that the top three manufacturers are Glock, SIG SAUER and Smith & Wesson, in that order. The top three calibers issued are 9mm, .40S&W and .45ACP in that order. Thirteen percent of those who responded indicate they anticipate a change in their issued duty handgun and of those, 8% anticipate changing manufacturers. Interestingly, of those who expect to switch manufacturer, 33% anticipate switching to a Glock but 43% anticipate switching to “other.” It should be noted that “Other” is not Beretta, Colt, FNH, Glock, Heckler & Koch, Ruger, SIG SAUER, Smith & Wesson, Springfield Armory, Taurus or Walther. Eleven percent of agencies that anticipate changing issued handgun also anticipate changing caliber to 9mm.

The complete survey went on to ask questions about fleet vehicles, patrol rifles, shotguns, body-worn cameras, electronic control devices, OC spray and other tools. In every category the majority of respondents indicated that they expected to make purchases in the coming budget year with either a new purchase or replacement rate on average of 10% or greater.

All in all, when you take in the totality of the information in the survey report, it paints a positive picture of the coming year for the law enforcement industry. Agencies, in general, anticipate growth in several budget areas that include large purchases such as fleet vehicles (73% anticipate buying additional new or replacing old vehicles), handguns and other pieces of equipment.

About the Author

Lt. Frank Borelli (ret), Editorial Director | Editorial Director

Lt. Frank Borelli is the Editorial Director for the Officer Media Group. Frank brings 20+ years of writing and editing experience in addition to 40 years of law enforcement operations, administration and training experience to the team.

Frank has had numerous books published which are available on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and other major retail outlets.

If you have any comments or questions, you can contact him via email at [email protected].

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