CHICAGO (WLS) -- As the national conversation about police funding continues, a new data analysis by the ABC7 Data Team is evaluating police funding across the country and right here in Illinois. Our findings reveal that the vast majority of cities and counties across the country continue to fund law enforcement at the same or even increased rates.
After the 2020 death of George Floyd, the phrase "defund the police" emerged as shorthand for rethinking how police funding is used and quickly became part of the national political debate.
"We should all agree, the answer is not to defund the police, it's to fund the police!" said President Joe Biden during his State of the Union address this past March.
Now, a new analysis by the ABC7 Data Team finds that in many communities across the country funding for law enforcement has remained the same or increased since 2019.
After looking at 109 city and county budgets nationwide, we found about 90% of these local governments set aside either more or about the same amount of money for law enforcement agencies in the past three years. Here locally, in Joliet, police funding increased by 6.1%. In Elgin, police funding is up 9.9%. In Chicago, there's been a 14.7% increase. Naperville saw a 15.7% increase in police funding between 2019 and 2022.
"In Naperville, we have phenomenal support from our community and our elected officials, as well as our city management for law enforcement and public safety in general. So they recognize the importance of it and what it means to keep a safe community. So that support is there. So I don't really get caught up in the national noise, I deal with what I have to deal with here and we've got great support locally," said Chief Jason Arres, Naperville Police.
Chief Arres says salaries and benefits are the biggest driver of his budget, as well as the costs of adding new technology such as body-worn cameras.
"I think over the last few years that we had discussed, it's around 3.9%, when you project it over the years, in that time, we have added police officer positions, we added a social worker position. And then again, a lot of that technology that we're working on constitutes a big piece of the increases that we've had," Chief Arres said.
"The blue team early warning system, mental health screenings, body cameras, those items were unfunded. We were getting those items to our own budget," said Chief Bill Evans, Joliet Police Department.
"We haven't heard a lot of talk about defunding and things like that. I think the citizens are Joliet from what I can tell from my period of time here is they want to continue funding the police," Chief Evans said.
Elgin officials tell ABC7 their police budget increase is due to similar reasons to the other local departments such as salaries and benefits and that they added new mental health-focused positions in the past three years as well.
Chicago police officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this report.