Arresting Trend: Economic Woes Hit Cops

"I think to say they are concerned is to put it mildly," Wexler told ABC News. "They see this time as sort of a wake-up call, for if we don't put our resources where we need it, we could see a reversal of the crime decreases we've seen in recent years."

"Well, the people in Atlanta or any community wants to see police visibility, omnipresence, because it does deter crime, it prevents crime. … Criminals usually operate in areas where they see no police," he said. "And that's what my concern is, when you start to reduce your resources by 10 percent, then the criminals know that as well, because they see less police officers, less police presence."

Will Economic Stimulus Package Help Cops?

The U.S. Senate is currently considering a $365 billion stimulus package, with a nearly $4 billion slice tagged for federal grants to state and local law enforcement efforts.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., praised the addition of the funds, noting that "preserving the ability of state and local law enforcement to protect our communities and safeguard our streets benefits us all."

Leahy contends that a commitment to providing funding for law enforcement will "preserve safer environments for our local economies to thrive."

The Senate Appropriations Committee meets to discuss the economic package today. With police chiefs watching the economy much more intensely than they ever have before, the cash injection could be a welcome boost to anti-crime efforts.

"Look, for a mayor, cutting the police budget is the last thing he or she wants to do. … Cities are doing this very reluctantly," Wexler said. "But what we are seeing is, even though police department budgets are the last thing to be cut, two-thirds of them are already stopped overtime. A third of them put a freeze on hiring, so the impact is just starting to be felt. But if we go along this road, we can anticipate that come summer, when crime starts to really increase, when you need those extra resources, is when departments and cities will really feel it."

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