Pricing police services: theory
Department of Marketing, La Salle University, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, USA, and
Louis A. Tucci
Department of Management and Marketing, College of New Jersey, Ewing,
New Jersey, USA
Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to present and test a particular theory of pricing of police
Design/methodology/approach – A theory of police pricing was developed, then tested using data
collected from a mail survey of Chiefs of Police in Pennsylvania.
Findings – Pricing practices vary considerably among police departments. There appears to be no
underlying theory in the practice of pricing of police services.
Research limitations/implications – Research was limited to one state in the USA and for a
limited number of police services.
Practical implications – In setting prices, police departments ought to consider how the price
charged is consistent or inconsistent with achieving their overall departmental goals.
Originality/value – No previous empirical studies on how police departments charge for their
services have been found. This research may lead to a more complete understanding of policing
Keywords Police, Data analysis, Cost-based pricing, United States of America
Paper type Research paper
In general, non-proﬁt community service organizations such as police and ﬁre
departments, public school systems, public libraries, and so on, do not charge for their
services. Yet despite the public nature of these organizations, few deal in an entirely
“free” mode. Most of them charge for at least some of the services that they provide,
although the prices charged may not reﬂect the true cost of providing the service.
Despite the fact that some charges are usually made, the issue of pricing in non-proﬁt
organizations is often a neglected area.
Given continuing ﬁnancial pressures on police departments across countries, some
have used and are considering implementing various use and user fees. Despite this
increase in the imposition of such fees, very little is known about their levels or how
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The authors wish to express thanks to Chief Stephen J. White of the Doylestown Township,
Pennsylvania Police Department for his insights into some of the practical aspects of policing
and police management.
The opinions in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reﬂect those of
Chief White or the Board of Supervisors of Doylestown Township.
Received 15 May 2006
Revised 4 April 2007
Accepted 4 March 2008
Policing: An International Journal of
Police Strategies & Management
Vol. 31 No. 3, 2008
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited