Crime Up, Police Down

It's a cruel irony for police departments around the country that just as crime threatens to increase amid rising unemployment and declining social services, police budgets are shrinking, as well. While criminologists debate whether a shrinking economy boosts crime rates, many are worried the problem will become a self-fulfilling prophecy if cities have to cut police head counts and patrol fewer streets, as is happening in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and New York. Police chiefs are hoping to see some relief in the stimulus package being debated in Congress, which may include $2.64 billion in crime-fighting grants and more than $1 billion to hire 50,000 new cops.