NYC has way too many cops

As do many other cities, but since I’m a New Yorker, I’m leading with the hometown news.

US cities vary widely in the number of cops they have relative to their population, as the graph below (drawn from data assembled by Governing magazine). Among big cities, DC, Chicago, New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia top the list, with over 40 officers per 10,000 people. These are well above the national average of just under 28 per 10,000. Cities toward the bottom of the list have 20 or fewer.

If New York had an average number of cops, and not one of the highest ratios to population of any city in the country, we’d have 23,645 officers, not 36,228. If we had San Diego’s ratio, we’d have just 11,422, half as many as that average (which falls between Miami and Kansas City).

So, if New York wanted to be just average, we could fire 12,500 cops. If we wanted to be like San Diego, minus the nice weather and the US Navy, we could fire almost 25,000. We don’t have to be harsh about it. We could give them nice new jobs doing useful things instead of beating and shooting people, or a generous severance package if they prefer.

Even 11,422 is probably too many cops. But that’s another conversation.

Cops per 10,000 pop


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