In late 2007, the United States suffered the worst economic and financial crisis in more than 70 years. This situation subsequently placed pressure on state and municipal budgets and has resulted in cuts to police agency budgets. The climate of austerity along with decreasing resources and greater public demand for police services has created an environment where police agencies need to examine their organizations with a view to decreasing costs while maintaining their level of service.
These problems are not new to policing and as countries around the world as well as the United States experience economic growth and contraction, police organizations need to be able to respond to the impacts of these changes on their budgets over time. One police service that U.S. police chiefs may look to for ideas on increasing agency efficiencies is the New Zealand Police. Since the mid-1980s the New Zealand Police has undergone significant change. These changes were both self-initiated and in response to a formal government review due to shifts in the governance and operational environment. Detailed below are the steps taken and lessons learned from the New Zealand National Police Force and how U.S. law enforcement agencies can use this information to help them address similar challenges.