Cover: In Broad Daylight

In Broad Daylight

New Calculator Brings Crime Costs — and the Value of Police — Out of the Shadows

Published May 15, 2014

by Paul Heaton

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Crime inflicts a substantial toll on individuals, businesses, and communities. Understanding the total cost of crime — which includes costs related to lost quality of life, general fear, and other intangibles, in addition to the more obvious costs related to lost property, incarceration, and the like — can help cities decide how best to invest their crime-control dollars. RAND's Cost of Crime Calculator lets city leaders and residents calculate the total cost of crime in their communities and assess the potential value of hiring additional police officers. The calculator can be found at

The Many Costs of Crime


  • Lost Property
  • Patrolling & Investigation
  • Medical Treatment
  • Adjudication
  • Incarceration


  • Lost Quality of Life
  • Lost Productivity
  • General Fear
  • Lost Use of Community Spaces
  • Psychological Effects

Crime Cost Americans More Than $300 Billion in 2010

 cost per crimenumber of incidents
Aggravated assault$91,694778,901
Motor vehicle theft$9,533737,142

This calculation considers only the seven serious crimes classified by the FBI as “Part I” crimes and excludes the costs of unreported incidents. Thus, the total cost of crime in 2010 was probably much higher.

The Cost of Crime to Residents and the Value of an Officer

In some cities, hiring one additional officer could save the community hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, even after the total annual cost of employment is factored in.

CityCost per capitaValue of an Officer
Madison, WI$622$124,167
Boise, ID$542$147,589
New York, NY$1,150$178,239
Denver, CO$1,074$214,506
Seattle, WA$1,048$240,137
Portland, OR$1,103$325,730
Los Angeles, CA$1,308$338,980
Washington, DC$3,256$356,255
Wichita, KS$1,448$390,234
Dallas, TX$1,971$459,678
Omaha, NE$1,322$478,708
Philadelphia, PA$3,021$483,234
Las Vegas, NV$1,719$514,087
Minneapolis, MN$2,182$529,680
Mobile, AL$1,795$553,366
Richmond, VA$2,636$559,530
Cleveland, OH$3,300$600,248
Atlanta, GA$2,848$639,028
Newark, NJ$3,994$673,089
Miami, FL$2,597$695,579
Baltimore, MD$4,699$751,467
Tulsa, OK$2,625$858,593

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