How Big is the Columbus Police Force?

Police departments nationally have been in the news quite a bit lately, but usually not for positive reasons. Excessive force, racism and even murder charges have been levied against police. While it is difficult to measure such incidents within individual departments, we can at least look at how big police departments are relative to a city’s population, and that’s what this post is about.

I looked at Columbus and its peers and Midwest counterparts to see where it ranked in terms of police presence within the city limits. Here is what I found.

Total Law Enforcement Officers, 2012

Chicago, IL: 12,766
Las Vegas, NV: 4,814
Jacksonville, FL: 2,972
Detroit, MI: 2,883
San Antonio, TX: 2,883
Milwaukee, WI: 2,577
Austin, TX: 2,252
Charlotte, NC: 2,196
Columbus: 2,138
Kansas City, MO: 1,869
St. Louis, MO: 1,866
Indianapolis, IN: 1,813
Cleveland: 1,709
Nashville, TN: 1,637
San Jose, CA: 1,435
Portland, OR: 1,195
Cincinnati: 1,113
Minneapolis, MN: 983
Virginia Beach, VA: 955
Pittsburgh, PA: 947
Omaha, NE: 943
Orlando, FL: 931
Sacramento, CA: 861
Wichita, KS: 821
Toledo: 674
Madison, WI: 555
Providence, RI: 517
Akron: 461
Dayton: 415
Youngstown: 196
Canton: 163

Law Enforcement per 10,000 Residents, 2012
1. St. Louis: 58.6
2. Chicago: 47.1
3. Cleveland: 43.4
4. Milwaukee: 43.0
5. Detroit: 40.8
6. Kansas City: 40.3
7. Orlando: 37.8
8. Cincinnati: 37.6
9. Jacksonville: 35.4
10. Las Vegas: 32.5
11. Pittsburgh: 30.3
12. Youngstown: 29.4
13. Dayton: 29.2
14. Providence: 29.1
15. Charlotte: 27.2
16. Austin: 27.0
17. Columbus: 26.8
18. Nashville: 26.4
19. Minneapolis: 25.2
20. Toledo: 23.6
21. Madison: 23.4
22. Akron: 23.2
23. Omaha: 22.6
24. Canton: 22.4
25. Indianapolis: 21.6
26. Virginia Beach: 21.3
27. Wichita: 21.2
28. San Antonio: 20.9
29. Portland: 20.0
30. Sacramento: 18.1
31. San Jose: 14.7

So now that we know the size of the police force in these places, does the size have a correlation to crime rates?

Here is the violent crime rate for the same year as these stats, 2012. The rank for police force per 10K people is listed beside the violent crime ranking.

Violent Crime Rate per 100K People and Law Enforcement Rank per 10K People
1. Detroit: 2,122.9 #5
2. St. Louis: 1,776.5 #1
3. Cleveland: 1,383.8 #3
4. Milwaukee: 1,294.5 #4
5. Kansas City: 1,263.2 #6
6. Nashville: 1,216 #18
7. Indianapolis: 1,185.5 #25
8. Toledo: 1,171.9 #20
9. Orlando: 1,017.4 #7
10. Minneapolis: 992.2 #19
11. Cincinnati: 974.7 #8
12. Dayton: 973.7 #13
13. Akron: 886.6 #22
14. Youngstown: 809.2 #12
15. Las Vegas: 784 #10
16. Pittsburgh: 752 #11
17. Wichita: 742.5 #27
18. Sacramento: 738.6 #30
19. Charlotte: 647.9 #15
20. Providence: 636.9 #14
21. Columbus: 630 #17
22. Jacksonville: 617.3 #9
23. Omaha: 594.5 #23
24. Portland: 517.2 #29
25. San Antonio: 503.1 #28
26. Austin: 408.8 #16
27. Madison: 377.7 #21
28. San Jose: 363.3 #31
29. Virginia Beach: 169.4 #26
30. Canton: 28.6 #24
Chicago: N/A

Based on the ranking above, which cities are getting the best bang for their police force? That would be cities with a larger police force ranking (by at least 2 spots) than violent crime ranking. These would include: Orlando, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Providence, Columbus, Jacksonville, Austin, Madison, Virginia Beach and Canton.

On the opposite end, the cities with failing police levels vs. violent crime include those places with a higher violent crime ranking than police ranking (by at least 2 spots). Those are: Detroit, Nashville, Indianapolis, Toledo, Minneapolis, Akron, Wichita, Sacramento, Portland, San Antonio and San Jose.

Finally, the cities with violent crime ranked about where their police size is include St. Louis, Cleveland, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City, Dayton and Omaha.

So Columbus is in the best category. Its violent crime ranking is 4 spots lower than its law enforcement ranking size, meaning that police in Columbus are performing better than average. Let’s just hope they’re doing the right, legal thing when policing.

For more information and other cities, large and small, check out this link: http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-cities-with-the-greatest-police-presence-most-officers-per-capita.html

The Final Tally on the Long Winter of 2013-2014 Part 1

For a good portion of the US, the winter of 2013-2014 was one of the worst, if not the worst, in recent memory. Cold and snow hit early in the season and didn’t let up until the first half of March. Now that April is behind us (the last month that snow typically might fall during a season), we can take a look back at a winter many would like to forget.

A Look Back at Snowfall
For many in Central Ohio, winter provided its first taste on October 23rd, when a cold front briefly changed rain to a wet snow that coated car tops. This was merely a prelude to what would come.

2013-14 Winter Snowfall vs. Normal
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As can be seen, monthly snowfall was above normal in 5 of the 7 months that snow can potentially fall in, in some cases more than 2x the normal value.

November Notable Snow Events
November 11-12th, 2013: This was the first real accumulating snowfall of the season, dropping a general 1″-2″ across the area. The highest total in Franklin County was 2″ reported just southeast of Clintonville. A map of the event can be found here: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20131112/

November 26th-27th, 2013: The months 2nd and larger event occurred towards the end of the month, and dropped 1″-4″ across the county, with the higher totals on the east side of Columbus. A map of the event can be found here: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20131127/

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The November total of 4.7″, while not anywhere near record breaking, was a top 20 snowiest, coming in at #14. November 2013 was also the snowiest Columbus had seen since 1972, when 6.3″ fell.
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December Notable Snow Events
December 6th, 2013: This was the first major event of the season. A low pressure center brought rain to the area on the 5th. As temperatures cooled, rain gradually changed to freezing rain and then heavy snow, dropping 3″-6″ across the area. A map of this event can be found here: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20131206/

December 10th, 2013: The second event of the month was a persistent band of snow that set up alon I-71. The cold air produced high ratios, dropping 1″-3″. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20131210/

December 14th, 2013: Rain changed to snow along and north of I-71. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20131214/

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December’s 12.7″ total was 2 1/2x normal, and the first 10 days of the month were the snowiest on record. It also made the month the 8th snowiest December on record. Further, it was the 2nd consecutive above average December and the 5th since 2007 to be so.

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January Notable Snow Events
January 2nd, 2014: The new year started off as snowy as the previous ended, when a low pressure brought occasionally heavy snow and 3″-5″ across the city. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140102/

January 18th-19th, 2014: A clipper system, Columbus’ most reliable snow producer, brought 1″-2″ across the area. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140119/

January 25th-26th, 2014: The months’ signature event, a strong storm brough a mixed bag of precipitation, including heavy snow to parts of the city. As the storm passed, additional snow squalls developed into the 26th and brought occasional whiteout conditions. Columbus’ official 2-day total was 8.3″. A map of the event can be found here, though it only lists totals for the 25th: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140125/

All told, the 17.7″ of snow for the month was the 16th snowiest on record, and the 8.3″ snow event tied for the 10th largest January event since records began.
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February Notable Snow Events

February 4th-5th, 2014: A low pressure brought heavy snow and mixed precipitation to the area, and proved to be winter’s largest snow event with 6″-10″ across the city. The 10.6″ at Columbus was the largest storm of the winter, tied as the 3rd largest February snowstorm, and provided the 7th largest daily February snowfall. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140205/

February 9th, 2014: A weak system brought 1″-3″. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140209/

February 14th-15th, 2014: Valentines Day brought a storm that skimmed the area with 2″-4″, with much higher totals to the south. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140215/

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February’s 15.9″ of snow was the 6th snowiest on record.
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March Notalbe Snow Events

March 2nd-3rd, 2014: A low pressure brought 2-3″ over the city. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140302/

March 29th, 2014: A storm brought in 1″-2″ in spring’s first week. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140329/

March did not break any records or have any large events, but it was more or less a capping month to a winter the kept snowing.

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April saw just one snow event, on the 15th, when half an inch to 1″ fell, ending the snowfall season.

So where did 2013-2014 fall in the seasonal total? 56.4″ This ranks it as the 3rd snowiest winter since records began in 1878. It was also the #1 snowiest meteorological winter (December-February) on record. The graph below shows the top 10 snowiest winters. Notice that 4 of the 10 have occurred since 2002, with 3 since 2007. Are we possibly entering a snowier period? That remains to be seen.

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Coming up: How did the winter’s temperatures rank in history? We know there was a lot of cold, but how much?