What are the pros and cons of one-officer versus two-officer patrols?

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Obviously there are benefits to a two-officer patrol. It is much safer and more effective to have multiple officers on the scene in every possible situation. For one, they can protect one another in the event of a dangerous occurrence. For another, they can both provide aid, or one can provide aid while the other pursues an assailant or radios for backup.

However, the unfortunate reality is that there are usually not enough officers to staff two-officer patrols. Typically, police forces are overburdened financially and have to make due with the few officers they have; they then try to spread the patrol out as wide as possible. So, while they are safer, two-officer patrols are more expensive, cover less area, and are simply less feasible in many cases.

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In an ideal world, patrol cars would have two officers in them.  However, in this world of limited budgets for police forces, it is often the case that one-officer patrols are inevitable.

In terms of policing, two-officer patrols are superior.  If there are two officers in a car, they can see many more things than if there is only one officer.  A single officer has to concentrate on driving and will therefore miss many things.  With another officer in the car, this is less of a problem.  If there are two officers in the car, there is greater safety for the officers and more ability to apprehend suspects.  If a single officer pulls up to a crime scene, more suspects can escape than if there are two.  Two officers can also back one another up when entering a dangerous situation.

However, in the budget situation that most cities face, two-officer patrols are much harder to implement.  This means that police departments end up with one-officer patrols.  In this environment, the good point of one-officer patrols is that they allow a department with limited funds to have at least some police presence in more parts of a city at more times.

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