Achieving Sound Policing

The Promise and Challenges of Cost-Benefit Analysis of Public Safety


With generous funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, and working in concert with the Police Foundation, the Policing Project engaged in a two-phase project to invigorate the use of cost-benefit analysis around policing. Phase I involved bringing together talented academics from a variety of fields and disciplines to discuss the challenges of using CBA to assess policing practices. In Phase II, teams of academics will work with policing agencies to do preliminary CBAs around specific policing practices. This is the report of the first phase of our work.


1). Defining the Frame: What are the goals of conducting CBA around policing? What costs and benefits ought to be included?

2). Measuring the Effects of Policing: How can we design studies to assess the policing policies and practices at issue?

3). Putting a Value on the Costs and Benefits of Policing: How do we value intangible costs and benefits like community trust or dignitary harms?