Serious crime in Cincinnati continues to decline, and the number of police officers is dropping - yet taxpayers still pay more for police service.
The city now has 1,032 officers, the lowest number since 2003, according to an Enquirer comparison of staffing, crime and budget data. But the department's budget jumped in the eight years since to $104.4 million this year - a 22 percent increase.
Police officials have reduced civilian ranks and held the top ranks essentially steady, according to data obtained through a public records request. They haven't hired any new officers since 2008.
But costs continue to grow, specifically because of benefits and health care.Payments to the police pension fund have jumped an average of almost 4 percent every year since 2000, according to the city budget office, and health care costs for all city employees averaged 18.5 percent increases annually in that same time period. Police agreed last year to a wage freeze, but it didn't take effect until this year.