Defund the police? Police budgets of major U.S. cities

NYPD officers
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

As the U.S. grapples with how best to allocate funding to maximize public safety, some cities are taking a hard look at police department budgets.

In 2020, “Defund the police” became a rallying cry for some protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and other incidents of police violence against Black people. This movement proposes reallocating funding from police departments to other agencies.

The Vera Institute of Justice, a national advocacy group that works to build a more fair and equitable justice system, collected city budget data for the 50 largest cities across the country (and the largest city in each state), and compiled the data on one place.

We took a look at which cities spent the most money, per resident, on policing. These were the top 50.

50. Nashville, Tennessee

Washington Post
William DeShazer/The Washington Post/Getty Images

In Nashville, the city spent $311 per resident on the police force in 2020.

The city’s police budget totaled $216.8 million.

49. San Antonio, Texas

Texas scenics
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

In 2020, the City of San Antonio budgeted $313 per resident on its police force.

The total police budget was $479.1 million.

48. Des Moines, Iowa

Two Iowa Police Officers Shot And Killed In Des Moines
Steve Pope/Getty Images

Des Moines budgeted $323 per resident on policing in 2020.

The city’s police department budget was more than $71.5 million — 39% of the city’s total spending.

47. Charlotte, North Carolina

Republicans Hold Virtual 2020 National Convention
Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Charlotte spent $327 per resident on its police force in 2020.

The total budget for police was $285.9 million.

46. Omaha, Nebraska

Nine Dead After Shooting Spree In Omaha Mall
Getty Images

In 2020, Omaha spent $340 per resident on policing.

The total police department budget was $159.8 million.

45. Phoenix, Arizona

US-POLITICS-TRUMP-RALLY-DEMO
Laura Segall/AFP/Getty Images

Phoenix budgeted $341 per resident on police work in 2020.

The police budget was more than $909.1 million — 41% of all city funds.

44. Cheyenne, Wyoming

Cheyenne Shooting
Ben Neary/AP

Cheyenne spent $342 per resident on its police force.

The city’s 2020 police budget was $14.5 million.

43. Burlington, Vermont

Donald Trump Holds Campaign Rally In Burlington, VT
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

In 2020, Burlington budgeted $349 per resident on policing.

The city’s total police budget was more than $17.9 million.

42. Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon on the eve of the 2020 Presidential elections
Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Images

Portland’s police force cost $352 per resident in 2020.

The city’s total police budget was $238.2 million.

41. Denver, Colorado

Solemn High Requiem Mass for fallen Boulder police officer Eric Talley
Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post/Getty Images

Denver spent $355 per resident on police in 2020.

The total police budget was $277.9 million — 17% of the city spending.

39 (TIE). Fresno, California

3 dead in Fresno shooting spree; suspect arrested, linked to Motel 6 slaying
John Walker/Fresno Bee/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

Fresno spent $367 per resident on the police department.

In 2020, $201.8 million — 40% of the city’s total budget — went to policing.

39 (TIE). Albuquerque, New Mexico

NM Year In Review Albuquerque Police Shootings
Russell Contreras/AP

Albuquerque also spent $367 per resident on police in 2020.

The total police department budget was $211.1 million.

38. San Diego, California

US-POLICE-RACE-UNREST
Ariana Drehsler/AFP/Getty Images

San Diego allocated $378 per citizen to its police force in 2020.

The department budget was $542.1 million.

36 (TIE) Charleston, South Carolina

Protest Held After No Charges Are Filed In Death Of Jamal Sutherland
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Charleston spent $379 per resident on police department activities in 2020.

The total police department budget was more than $53.4 million.

36 (TIE). Dallas, Texas

Donald Trump fundraiser in Dallas
Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

Dallas also spent $379 per resident on its police force.

The total department budget for 2020 was $546 million.

35. Houston, Texas

Houston EMS Attends To Suspected COVID-19 Patients Amid Surge In Delta Variant
Getty Images

In Houston, police cost $387 per resident in 2020.

The total department budget came in at just under $900 million for the year.

34. Mesa, Arizona

Nightime Police Traffic Stop
Getty Images

Mesa spent $389 per resident on police work in 2020.

The department’s total budget was $198.2 million.

33. Columbus, Ohio

TOPSHOT-US-POLITICS-RACISM-PROTEST
Jeff Dean/AFP/Getty Images

In 2020, Columbus allocated $398 per resident on its police department.

The city’s total police budget was $347.8 million.

32. Little Rock, Arkansas

Police protection / Donna Lesher
Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Arkansas’ state capital spent $405 per resident on its police department in 2020.

The total department budget was $80.2 million — 38% of city funds for the year.

31. Salt Lake City, Utah

US-POLITICS-UNREST-PROTEST
George Frey/AFP/Getty Images

Salt Lake City allocated $410 per resident to its police budget.

The department accounted for more than $82.2 million in 2020.

30. Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta Police Hold News Conference On Massage Parlor Killings
Megan Varner/Getty Images

Atlanta’s largest city spent $412 per resident on police work in 2020.

The total department budget was more than $248.5 million for the year.

29. Memphis, Tennessee

A Night On Beale Street In Downtown Memphis, Tennessee
Adam Gray/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

Memphis’ police department cost $419 per resident in 2020.

The city spent more than $274.5 on police work for the year.

28. Los Angeles, California

Police told residents of a large homeless encampment at the park that they had to pack up and leave within 24 hours.
Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

California’s largest city spent $420 per resident on its police department.

The LAPD’s budget for the year was $1.74 billion.

27. San Jose, California

VTASHOOTING0528
Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images

San Jose spent $434 per resident on policing in 2020.

The total department budget was $473.2 million.

26. Birmingham, Alabama

Businesses Remain Closed As Governor Ivey Works To Reopen Alabama
Maranie Staab/Bloomberg/Getty Images

In Birmingham, policing cost $443 per resident in 2020. 

The department budget for the year was $92.8 million.

25. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Derek Chauvin Sentencing Hearing Held In Minneapolis
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The Minneapolis police department cost $444 per resident in 2020.

The city’s police budget was $193.4 million.

24. Anchorage, Alaska

2020 Iditarod Sled Dog Race
Lance King/Getty Images

In 2020, Anchorage spent $445 per resident on policing.

The total budget for the department was $133.8 million.

23. New Orleans, Louisiana

City Officials Cancel Mardi Gras Celebrations Amid Pandemic
Bryan Tarnowski/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Big Easy spent $449 per resident on police.

The city budgeted $206.9 million for the department for the year.

22. Tampa, Florida

US-AMFOOT-SUPER-BOWL
Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

Tampa spent $450 per resident on its police force.

In 2020, the police department budget for the city was $177 million — 41% of total city spending.

21. Austin, Texas

SOCCER: JUL 29 Concacaf Gold Cup Semifinal - United States v Qatar
Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

In 2020, Austin’s police department cost $451 per resident.

The city spent $491.3 million on the force that year.

20. St. Louis, Missouri

Ferguson Faces Unrest And Destruction As Thanksgiving Holiday Approaches
Joshua Lott/Getty Images

The city of St. Louis allocated $454 per resident on its police force in 2020.

The total department budget was $154.9 million.

19. Detroit, Michigan

US-POLITICS-RACISM-UNREST
Seth Herald/AFP/Getty Images

In 2020, Detroit spent $460 per resident on police work.

The total department budget for the year was $318.2 million.

18. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Trump Campaign Lawyers Hold News Conference In Philadelphia
Getty Images

Philadelphia spent $468 per resident on its police department in 2020.

The city allocated $956.6 million to police for the year.

17. Providence, Rhode Island

US-POLITICS-RACE-UNREST
Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

Providence spent $478 per resident on policing in 2020.

The total department budget was $85.6 million for the year.

16. Charleston, West Virginia

Police secure the West Virginia statehouse, which was mostly
Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

In the capital of West Virginia, police cost $482 per resident in 2020.

The total department budget was $22.5 million for the year.

15. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Continues Counting Ballots Through The Night Amid Close Election
Getty Images

Milwaukee spent $502 per resident on its police force.

The $321.5 million police budget accounts for 58% of the city’s total spending for the year. That’s the largest percentage of any city’s budget on this list.

14. Kansas City, Missouri

Protests Erupt Around The Country After Police Custody Death Of George Floyd In Minneapolis
Getty Images

In 2020, Kansas City allocated $510 per resident on police work.

The department budget was more than $262.2 million.

13. Long Beach, California

Long Beach Vigil Shooting
Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

In Long Beach, police cost $522 per resident.

The city spent $265.5 million on the department in 2020.

12. Jacksonville, Florida

Three Fatalities Reported At Mass Shooting At Jacksonville Gaming Tournament
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Jacksonville spent $533 per resident on its police department in 2020.

The city’s total budget for police was $481.6 million for the year.

11. Seattle, Washington

Protesters Take To The Streets On Election Day In Seattle
Getty Images

The City of Seattle spent $546 per resident on police in 2020.

The department’s budget was $440.2 million — 12% of the city’s total spending for the year.

10. Miami, Florida

2021 Miami Beach Pride
Jason Koenrer/Getty Images

In 2020, Miami’s police force cost $564 per resident.

The total department budget for the year was $281.3 million.

9. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Police Officer Shoots Man In Struggle Over Gun During Traffic Stop
Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

In Boston, police cost $595 per resident.

The city’s 2020 police budget was $431.7 million.

8. San Francisco, California

SFChronicleVirusAAPIViolence
San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images

San Francisco spent $604 per resident on its police force.

The 2020 department budget was $706.2 million — 9% of the city’s total spending. 

7. Chicago, Illinois

Multiple Shooting On Chicago's South Side Kills One, Injures Others
Getty Images

In Chicago, police cost $611 per resident in 2020.

The department budget — accounting for 37% of city spending — was $1.8 billion.

6. New York City

Extinction Rebellion Holds Protest In New York City
Michael M Santiago/Getty Images

The NYPD cost the city $626 per resident in 2020.

The department’s budget was the largest in the country, at more than $11 billion.

5. Bridgeport, Connecticut

US-HEALTH-VIRUS-VACCINE
Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

Bridgeport police cost $706 per resident in 2020.

The department budget was $102.3 million.

4. Newark, New Jersey

Newark Begins 10-Day Stay-At-Home Order To Curb Rising Covid-19 Cases
Angus Mordant/Bloomberg/Getty Images

In 2020, Newark spent $737 per resident on police.

The total department budget was $208 million.

3. Washington, D.C.

"Justice for J6" Rally Held At US Capitol In Support Of January 6th Insurrectionists
Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

D.C. spent $744 per resident on its police force in 2020.

The city allocated $655.4 million to the department.

2. Wilmington, Delaware

Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden Campaigns Around Wilmington, DE
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Wilmington spent $825 per resident on policing in 2020.

The total department budget was $59.8 million.

1. Baltimore, Maryland

Seattle Mariners v Baltimore Orioles - Game 1
Getty Images

Baltimore has the highest per-capita price tag, spending $840 per resident on its city police department in 2020.

The total department budget for the year was more than $549 million.