How Much Does Policing Really Cost?

The National Equity Atlas is excited to announce the release of our latest data tool — At What Cost? Examining Police, Sheriff, and Jail Budgets Across the US. The interactive dashboard explores how much cities and counties across the nation spend on policing and incarceration.

Research has shown that local governments in the United States are dedicating more funds to carceral systems, like jails and law enforcement. At What Cost? sheds further light on this trend. Using data from the fiscal year 2022 budget allocations of 20 US cities and counties, the dashboard compares local spending on carceral activities with money allocated toward community investments that contribute to residents’ well-being — like housing, health care, and social services.

What the Dashboard Does

At What Cost? is a valuable tool for anyone working to promote transparency and accountability in local government. It enables users, including residents, advocates, and policymakers, to:

  • Understand how their tax dollars are being spent.
  • Assess their community’s spending priorities and compare them to other cities and counties.
  • Identify budget trends, funding disparities, and potential areas for reform.

How to Navigate the Dashboard

Unsure where to get started? We've developed a user guide to help you make full use of the dashboard and its data. It highlights key features and provides step-by-step instructions on accessing and interpreting local budget data.

Get Further Support

Have questions about the dashboard or its data? Explore our frequently asked questions. Don't see your question listed, or need one-on-one support? Please submit a request.