The SANDAG logo on a screen at the regional planning agency’s headquarters. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Roughly $2.21 billion was spent on public safety around San Diego County during fiscal year 2018, according to a study released Tuesday.

Public safety expenditures increased for the fifth consecutive year, even when accounting for inflation, according to the report prepared by the San Diego Association of Governments’ Criminal Justice Research Division. FY 2018 public safety spending represented a 3 percent increase over the $2.15 billion spent in fiscal year 2017, and is nearly 10 percent above the last decade’s spending nadir of $1.99 billion in fiscal year 2013.

According to the report, a stronger local economy and labor cost increases are largely responsible for the spending increases. Across the county, local jurisdictions spent an average of 32 percent of their general funds to support law enforcement agencies and departments.

“After the great recession, which started in December 2007, we had four consecutive annual decreases,” said Cynthia Burke, SANDAG’s director of criminal justice. “Today, public safety expenditures are back to where they were in 2009.”

Roughly 48 percent of public safety expenditures went to law enforcement divisions. In spite of that, the county’s per capita rate of law enforcement officers remains about half of the national average, with 1.29 officers in San Diego per 1,000 people compared to 2.40 per 1,000 nationwide.

Corrections accounted for 19 percent of countywide expenditures while court, prosecution and public defense costs totaled 24 percent of the spending total.

The city of San Diego spent the most of any law enforcement division at $456,019,100 while the county sheriff’s office spent $312,386,180. No other municipality spent more than $55 million on law enforcement during the fiscal year.

–City News Service

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