Police Killings and Municipal Reliance on Fine-and-Fee Revenue


Municipalities that increased the percentage of their budgets from fines and fees by 10 percent saw an associated increase of 3.5 police killings per million residents.

Between 2016 and 2021, more than 400 unarmed people were killed by police during traffic stops. In addition, metropolitan areas that rely more on revenue from fines and fees experience more police killings. This study analyzed over 2,700 U.S. municipalities from 2009 to 2018 to describe the type of municipalities that collect the most money in monetary sanctions and investigate whether killings by police are more frequent in places that rely on fines and fees revenue. The author found that suburbs with larger Black populations rely the most on revenue from monetary sanctions and that municipalities that rely on such revenue have more police killings. This suggests municipalities’ fiscal landscape not only influences police contact with the public but also influences police violence. 

You can read the full text here.  

Key Findings:

  • Suburbs collected 45 percent more in fine and fee revenue than central cities.
  • Suburbs with 15 percent or more Black residents get more than two percent of their budget from fines and fees, whereas rural towns with few Black residents rely the least on fines and fees, getting only .07 percent.
  • A one percent larger Black population is related to a one percent larger portion of the municipal budget derived from fines and fees.
  • Municipalities experienced four percent more police killings when they funded their budgets by one percent more from fines and fees.
Brenden Beck
RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of The Social Sciences