Exploring The Des Moines Police Budget: Saving & Reallocating Funds To Social & Community Needs

You may not know that the Des Moines Police Department’s budget is almost 40% of the city’s General Fund which funds most of the city budget. Also, more people work for the DMPD than any other City department. Isn’t it time to ask our leaders how some of the DMPD budget could be better used on social needs of the community?

Des Moines spends:

  • 5 times as much of its General Fund on policing as it does on parks & recreation
  • 8 times as much of its General Fund on policing as it does on libraries
  • 21 times as much of its General Fund on policing as it does on Neighborhood Services
  • Almost 100 times as much on policing as it does on the Office of Civil and Human Rights

And believe it or not, Des Moines spends $375 per resident[1] on policing. This means, for a family of 3 (2 adults and 1 kid or 1 adult and 2 kids, etc.), Des Moines spends over $1,000 on police.

The Des Moines PD has a total of 476 staff, with 362 being sworn officers. Each employee in the PD costs the city an average of $140k[1]. By just not replacing just 2 police officers (say, after retirement or departure), there’s nearly $300,000 in savings. Imagine how those savings could be used for neighborhood services, creating more affordable housing solutions, offering after school programming, sports leagues or job training for youth, addressing food insecurity.

If you think it’s worthwhile to reimagine how the Des Moines Police department’s budget could be better utilized or reallocated, please sign this petition. Doesn’t this at least deserve some exploration by our city leadership? The health and well-being of a city is not just determined by the weight of it’s law enforcement, but to the degree that all residents can grow, thrive and live a safe and happy life.

Tell our Mayor, City Manager, and City Council you want a study done on ways to reallocate and put some of the police department’s budget to better use in our community. Thank you!


[1] According to the 2021 Census data, Des Moines has 212,031 residents with an average household income of about $58k.

This number may or may not include health insurance, dental, and pension/other employee benefits administered by and budgeted within the Human Resources Department.