Police Department – Civilianize Forensic Services

Savings: $1.1 million

Currently, the Police Department has a Forensic Services section that analyzes physical evidence found at crime scenes.[1]  The 2011 budget includes 245 positions for this section.[2]

Under this option, the City would convert the 172 budgeted sworn positions in this section to civilian positions.  The budgeted value of the salaries of these 172 positions is $14.1 million.  Assuming that fringe benefits for sworn personnel cost 43 percent of salary, the costs of fringe benefits for these 172 positions is $6.06 million.  If these positions were civilian and the salaries remained unchanged, the estimated fringe benefits would cost 35 percent of salary, which equals $4.94 million.  Thus, the savings from converting these 172 positions to civilian positions would be approximately $1.1 million annually.

Proponents might argue that the job duties of the positions in the Forensic Services section do not require police officer training and instead require a different set of skills.  Additionally, others might argue that filling these positions with sworn officers is an inefficient use of resources given the more expensive fringe benefit costs of sworn officers and the large upfront investment in law enforcement training that is not being used or is not required for these assignments.  Others might argue that crime scene investigations in the Miami police department are wholly conducted by civilians and that the San Francisco City Controller has recommended that San Francisco civilianize its forensic services.[3],[4] Opponents might argue that sworn expertise is needed in the Forensic Services section as evidenced by the fact that the Philadelphia, Dallas, and San Antonio police departments employ a combination of sworn and civilian employees in their forensic units.[5]

Budget Details

Dept: Police Department, 057 Bureau: NA
Fund: Corporate Fund, 0100 Approp Code: Salaries and Wages – On Payroll, 0005
The appropriation is located on page 145 and the position schedule begins on page 159 of the 2011 Annual Appropriation Ordinance.




[1] Chicago Police Department. “General Order G04-02: Crime Scene Protection and Processing.” June 14, 2002.

[2] City of Chicago. “2011 Annual Appropriation Ordinance.” pg. 160

[3] Miami Police Department. “Crime Scene Investigations.”


[4] City and County of San Francisco- Office of the Controller. “Civilianization in the San Francisco Police Department – Patrol, Investigations, and Continued Support Functions.” June 14, 2010. pg. 7


[5] Griffiths, Curt Taylor; Palmer, Adam; Weeks, Larry; Polydore, Brian. “Civilianization in the Vancouver Police Department.” March 13, 2006. pgs. 253 – 256.