IACP Quick Take: How to do big things on a small police budget

Visibility into the budget and holding officers accountable for how they used that budget changed the way they operated


Here’s a quick summary of today’s session on how small agencies with even smaller budgets can not only manage, but thrive, presented by Greendale (Wis.) Police Chief Robert Malasuk at IACP 2014 in Orlando, Fla.

Quick Summary: Chief Robert Malasuk took over the Greendale police department in less that favorable conditions: he had no financial experience, his predecessor had weak relationships with community leaders and officers, and the agency’s spending habits left much to be desired, until he found a way to turn it all around.

Memorable Quotes:
“We settle for nothing less than continuous improvement – we took those two words and created a culture around it.” – Chief Malasuk

“It’s no secret that cops love training; the more training they receive the more successful they are.”

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Malasuk created a plan and broke it into three parts: immediate action, short-term goals, and long-term goals, and promoted a mission statement that continuously reminded his officers of their ultimate goal.
  2. Every member of the police department had visibility into what the budget looked like and how it was being spent – which prompted them to think critically about their needs.
  3. No need to cut spending, just stop wasting. Once the officers of Greendale understood that the dollars they saved were going right back to them in the form or gear they needed most, they began spending their budget more carefully.
  4. By sending all police instructors to mandated training, Greendale was able to provide their officers with in-house specialty use of force training and driving training from instructors, eliminating the need for all officers to attend training elsewhere at cost.

Other Observations:
Officers who wanted upgrades were expected to find out what it cost, seek out different vendors, and come back with a written proposal that detailed why the product benefitted the team, how it would save time, etc.

The department purchased new uniforms, squad cell phones, new firearms, communications technology, and more as a result of their new spending habits.

Officers voluntarily switched schedules around so that specialty training would not cost the department overtime, because they wanted the training and they knew the savings from avoiding OT pay would come back to them in some form.

Chief Malasuk won back the trust of city leaders by attending as many public financial meetings as possible to show that he was interested in learning and working collaboratively with them. 

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