LEO Training: Economics for the Patrol Officer

Economics = Much more than money. Here at UncensoredTactical we aim to bridge the gap for the lack of LEO training provided by both military and law enforcement agencies. Today is another update for LEO’s (applicible to other professionals as well) concerning economics as they relate to Law Enforcement and personnel management and not in the way of money or currency.

After recently reading “Basic Economics” by Thomas Sowell it became immediately apparent what I had been thinking all along during my late night shifts as a Patrol LEO driving around my neighborhoods looking for burglars.

by Thomas Sowell

“Economics”. If you take nothing else from this book or just from this term than let it be this definition “Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses”. – Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics.

In the book they give the example of a medic on a battlefield. How does he decide which dying soldier gets morphine and which doesn’t. Yeah, that one really hit home for me. Scarce resources with multiple uses? Sure. Sounds like a fucking fit to me! So…

Thought Experiment:

You are on patrol and you are the CEO of your own squad car and you have some time between calls to decide what to do. Here are some options on what a Patrol Officer might do:

  • Check the neighborhoods in your zone to be seen and prevent or catch burglaries.
  • Catch up on reading intel files released about known criminals in your jurisdiction.
  • Drive somewhere or go park somewhere to take a hydration and food intake break.
  • Meet with other officers near you to discuss previous calls or to learn and to bond or just relieve stress and joke around.
  • Catch up on reports that you still need to write.
  • Study something that you are lacking.
  • Drive down roads you are not familiar with to practice memorizing your geography.
  • Meet with known informants or known citizens in your zone to build relationships.
  • Meet up with other officers to practice scheduled tactical training.
  • Etc.

Let’s start by economically dissecting the first one “Checking Neighborhoods”. There’s more to it, but just on the surface I’m sure that many Road Supervisors out there don’t even think about this one:

*Do you drive slowly and secretly and smoothly to see everything you pass by and pay very close attention to your surroundings so that you will notice small details that may be out of place, or do you drive quickly through your neighborhoods so that people might see you pass by and your visibility is up in that specific neighborhood so that you can hit the next neighborhood as well to keep crime rates down across your entire zone???


Time, along with your availibility, is the BIGGEST resource that I can think of that is useful to your department and to your citizens that you protect. ***For every single thing that you do, it prevents you from doing something else. There are nights that I hit every single neighborhood in my zone, but I don’t pay shit attention to any details and I don’t hit every street. There are nights that I hit ever single street in some of my neighborhoods but I don’t make it to all of my neighborhoods so some of them go completely unseen by me. Then there are nights that I do whatever the hell I feel like, in a helter-skelter pattern. Tip (Yes, just the tip) Every single shift when I start up my Patrol car I turn on the Trail Tracker GPS app from the Apple App Store. I try to paint at least a little bit of each neighborhood in my zone with the trail history line in this app. Also, if I’m not paying attention and halfway through my shift I check my trail tracker on my phone or the iPad I leave in my passanger seat than it can tell me where I spend most of my time and I can adjust as I see fit. (I DO in fact have a government laptop mounted in my car, of which the map app totally freaking sucks. I use my laptop for two things: to read the call comments on 911 calls that I am driving to, and I use it to see where my fellow officers are, which I’m pretty sure there is an iPhone app for finding your friends that is probably MORE accurate, but I digress. Thanks for nothing government…)

Trail Tracker GPS - app

I use this app religiously on shift.


Many departments want Patrolmen to be “Proactive” which we usually refer to as “Getting into shit”. Here’s the thing. You KNOW where to find drugs in your zone. You KNOW where to find deadbeats walking down the street. BUT let’s say it’s your fucking grandmother that has someone kicking her front door down in the middle of the night. Where do you want to be, driving the local deadbeat to jail again or do you want to be available for a call for service…? Now, this saying isn’t ALWAYS applicible but in this case, you can’t fucking have your cake and eat it too. YOU have got to make the decision on every single action that you take whether or not it is worth your time and energy because your time is a scarce resource with multiple uses.

I am not giving you the answer on this one because this is YOUR call, on every call. But also I’m not giving you the answer because there ISN’T an answer. You have to operate within the law, you have to operate within you own personal morality set, you should operate within you agency’s policy, and you should do a damn good job.

As a bonus: Besides using your time and energy smartly as a scarce resource you should also be ABLE to act effectively as a patrol officer (or any other position or profession). I always tell people “You don’t have to be a fucking body builder to be a good cop, but you should at least be able to run up a flight of stairs without getting winded.”