Consent Decrees Are A Billion Dollar Industry

While we have spoken extensively of the damage consent decrees have caused communities in the terms of higher violent crime, a more difficult metric is the cost of a consent decree. Any city that volunteers to have their police department monitored by the federal government has to pay for it through their own budget.

While city budgets are public record, it is sometimes difficult to ascertain the exact cost of what consent decrees have cost cities. After a deep dive, using public budgets and news articles, we have estimated that DOJ Consent Decrees have cost taxpayers more than 1 billion dollars since their inception.

Here is a brief summary of what, just a small portion of consent decrees continue to pay.

Chicago has been under a consent decree since 2019 and they budget $25 million dollars a year to pay for it.

Seattle has been under a consent decree since 2012 and they have paid close to 120 million dollars since that time.

Cleveland has been under a consent decree since 2014 and their costs have topped 100 million dollars.

Newark has been under a consent decree since 2016 and they have paid close to 60 million dollars.

Baltimore has been under a consent decree since 2017 and reports indicate they pay approximately 8 million dollars each year. Their city budget lists the Compliance Bureau at 38 million dollars a year.

New Orleans has been under a consent decree since 2012 and they budget 8 million dollars a year.

Albuquerque has been under a consent decree since 2015 and it is estimated that they have spent close to 40 million dollars.

In Context

It is hard to know exactly what a consent decree costs because the initial years typically cost much more so the current budget does not reflect what would typically be a much higher cost. Minneapolis just budgeted 25 million dollars for their first year cost and that was also the first year cost in Chicago. Additionally, an annual budget for a consent decree such as Baltimore (8 million) does not include costs that many be placed elsewhere (such as the unit cost of 38 million dollars). We have researched just a fraction of the cities with consent decrees and have found monitors making between 2 and 4 million dollars a year so if there is ever a question as to why cities can’t seem to get out of consent decrees, that would be a good place to look. Consent Decree Monitors make millions a year and typically don’t even live in the city they are monitoring. It is the monitor that determines whether an agency is in compliance.

What Does This Mean For Phoenix

The average annual costs has been around 10 million dollars a year, after the initial cost which is likely 25-50 million dollars. The taxpayers will be responsible and history tells us that if Phoenix volunteers for a consent decree, that decree and cost will continue for decades.