Using ARPA Funds to Reimagine Public Safety

A new brief by the National League of Cities (NLC) offers an overview of local public safety staffing issues and details how local governments are spending American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to bolster their public safety workforce recruitment and retention efforts. This brief provides insights into how cities are reimagining public safety in their communities to promote more equitable public safety outcomes. 

The local government workforce was hit hard during the pandemic, but public safety roles, especially policing roles, have been among the hardest local government jobs to fill. From 2020 to 2021, police hiring has declined by 5 percent while resignations (18%) and retirements (45%) have increased. Besides an aging workforce, pandemic-related work fatigue and negative perceptions about police related to a history of inequitable criminal legal system outcomes have been driving these trends.  

Opportunities exist for local governments and police departments to improve equitable public safety outcomes, while simultaneously investing in the development of their public safety workforce. Cities have explored using ARPA funds to hire violence prevention officers and social workers as alternatives to traditional policing. So far, $713 million of ARPA funding has been designated for local public safety workforce development (Figure 3). NLC encourages local leaders to continue to invest these funds in innovative municipal workforce and public safety initiatives to strive for better community outcomes. 

Public Safety Workforce ARPA Spending. Source: ARPA Local Investment Tracker

Learn More

To learn more about the strategies local governments are using to bolster their public safety workforce and reimagine public safety in their communities, check out NLC’s new brief Public Safety Workforce Development in the Post COVID-19 Era.

About the Author

Jacob Gottlieb

About the Author

Jacob Gottlieb is a Research Specialist at the National League of Cities.