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Dr. Jon Shane on activity-based budgeting in law enforcement

This pioneering approach links police workload with financial planning

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Editor’s note: This week’s guest Dr. Jon Shane previously analyzed the findings of Police1’s “What Cops Want in 2023" survey, sharing data that suggest the time is ripe for police administrators to do two things: comprehensive workload analysis and service delivery revamp. Click here to read his article, which explores many of the themes discussed in this week’s episode.

In the realm of law enforcement, the start of a new year often brings about reflection and the pursuit of innovative approaches to age-old challenges. At the heart of this transformative period is a crucial, yet frequently overlooked aspect: budgeting and resource management within police departments.

Activity-based budgeting (ABB) is a pioneering approach that intricately links police workload with financial planning. This method presents a stark contrast to traditional budget models, offering a more nuanced understanding of how resources can be allocated effectively to meet operational needs. As this concept gains traction, it promises to reshape the landscape of policing, leading to a more efficient and responsive approach in law enforcement agencies.

In this episode of the Policing Matters podcast, host Jim Dudley speaks with the creator of activity-based budgeting for law enforcement, Dr. John Shane, a former police captain and current professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Their discussion illuminates the intricacies of ABB and its implications for law enforcement agencies.

About our sponsor

This episode of the Policing Matters Podcast is brought to you by Lexipol, the experts in policy, training, wellness support and grants assistance for first responders and government leaders. To learn more, visit

About our guest

Jon M. Shane is a professor in the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. Dr. Shane has published in leading criminal justice and policing journals, including “Crime Science,” “Journal of Criminal Justice,” “Justice Quarterly,” “Policing: An International Journal of Strategies and Management” and “Police Practice and Research.”

Prior to his faculty appointment, Dr. Shane was a member of the Newark, New Jersey Police Department where he retired at the rank of captain. Throughout his career, Dr. Shane held several operational and administrative positions, including several years in the Research, Analysis and Planning Division. In that role, Dr. Shane was the commanding officer of the administrative arm of the Police Director’s Office serving as the primary policy advisor to the Police Director and Chief of Police. Dr. Shane can be reached at

Memorable quotes

  • On the uniqueness of policing budgets: “It is different in policing. We don’t base budgets on arrests or how many crimes we solved or how much property’s recovered or citations issued.”
  • On the nature of police work and budgeting: “Policing is loaded with reactive calls for service. The only way you can figure out how many officers you need to do that kind of work is to first identify a workload model.”
  • About the simplicity of workload modeling: “It did not have to get that scientific. It didn’t require a Ph.D. in mathematics or computer science to get this sort of stuff done.”
  • On adapting budget models for policing: “This model was created in Microsoft Excel. We’ve boiled away all of the technical issues that fall behind queueing theory and workload modeling, to a very simplistic desktop application that any police department can use.”

Five takeaways from this episode

  1. Simplicity and accessibility: ABB is designed to be user-friendly, breaking down complex financial and operational data into manageable components.
  2. Comprehensive workload analysis: ABB enables police departments to quantify and analyze their workload in a detailed manner, tying it directly to budgeting.
  3. Operational and financial clarity: The model provides clear insights into the cost implications of various police operations, aiding in more informed decision-making.
  4. Adaptability across agency sizes: ABB is versatile, suitable for both large metropolitan departments and small-town police forces.
  5. Fostering proactive policing: By understanding and managing their resources better, police departments can allocate more time and effort toward proactive policing strategies.

Learn more about activity-based budgeting here.

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Policing Matters law enforcement podcast with host Jim Dudley features law enforcement and criminal justice experts discussing critical issues in policing