The Cost of Crime: Part One

By: Stuart Peck Email
By: Stuart Peck Email

There were over 16,000 murders and well over two-million burglaries in 2005 in the United States. Every time you see or hear about a crime occurring, does it impact your wallet?

“Even though I’ve been doing this for almost 14 years, sometimes you’ve just got to stop and just take a minute. You know sometimes it’s just difficult to see how bad of things, people do to each other,” said Det. Barry Raley of the Bowling Green Police Department, in Bowling Green, Ky.

Crime is one of those things everybody hopes never happens to them, however you pay the price for others actions even if you’ve never been directly affected by a crime. The cost of crime is felt year round whether it’s a robbery, vandalism or a murder.

Crimes strain man power and take police officers off the streets. They have to process the crime scene and study the evidence.

“I really think there’s a lot of things we’re missing because we don’t have the time and resources to deal with it,” said Charles Casey of BGPD.

“Other cases are not getting investigated if we’re involved in a major case, the other cases do have to take a lower priority,” Raley said.

There is the cost of equipment and resources, in addition to the manpower that is needed to investigate a crime.

“ … And a lot of it is disposable equipment so you can only use it once or it comes in small quantities so you have to keep purchasing as you go along,” Casey said.

Lab work is also needed for some crimes.

“It’s not like they send us a bill but there is a cost associated with that to the public, it’s the cost of doing business having law enforcement in your community,” Raley said.

The cost of a crime to the public doesn’t end when the crime is solved and the case is closed. Tommy Loving with the Bowling Green/Warren County Drug Task Force said the effects of crime can follow someone for the rest of his or her life.

“I think the emotional toll is not even measurable. We are also looking at prevention costs, treatment costs ... ” Loving said.

“ … Even emotional side of doing this kind of work, there is a cost associated with that,” Raley said.

Loving told us that about 80 percent of crimes committed are in some way drug related. He also said when it comes to cost, meth labs are the real cost drivers.

That cost has decreased in recent years. It used to cost between $2,000 and $10,000 to properly clean up a meth lab. Now that cost can be as low as $500 per lab.

The city of Bowling Green alone, is expected to spend over $12 million this next year, to keep citizens safe. That means for every dollar of taxes you pay, a quarter of it goes toward public safety.

Tomorrow night in part two of The Cost of Crime, we’ll take a look at the price and impact a public defender has on the community as a person moves through the justice system.

WBKO 2727 Russellville Road Bowling Green, KY 42101-3976 Phone: 270-781-1313 After Hours Hotline: 270-781-6397 Fax: 270-781-1814
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