Three Takeaways from the Day

1). Anyone can do CBA

Although quantifying the various costs and benefits of policing practices may be difficult, all it takes to start a CBA is a sheet of paper and a list of potential benefits and costs. Just that first step can provide valuable information to help policymakers make more informed decisions about whether to adopt a particular course of action—as well as the steps they will need to take in order to maximize benefits and minimize costs.

2). CBA is essential for making sound policy decisions

Technologies and tactics are only as effective as the policies that guide their use. Many have touted body cameras as a tool for building trust and transparency—but experience in many jurisdictions shows that these benefits are elusive if agencies do not have policies in place to actually further these goals. CBA can help agencies ensure that they have the policies in place to accomplish their goals, while minimizing the costs that policing can impose.

3). In defining the goals of policing, agencies should focus on public safety, and not simply on reducing crime

Panelists stressed that many policing tactics may produce short-term crime reductions—but that these crime reductions are not really a benefit if communities are not safer and more secure as a result. Framing the goal as public safety encourages agencies to adopt strategies that focus more on the root causes of crime, and achieve more lasting effects.