The Police Foundation’s Rise: Implications of Public Policing’s Dark Money


A new kind of organization has emerged in public policing across the United States and Canada - the ‘police foundation’. The foundation’s private, nonprofit legal status allows it to engage in private fundraising activities that police, as public bodies, cannot. In many municipalities, police foundations raise funds directed toward police procurement practices and operations. We discuss reasons for and detail the rise and growth of these foundations as they have modeled the New York Police Department’s Foundation and changes in that foundations’ expenditures over time, and examine the key claim that police foundations reduce corruption by maximizing transparency. We draw from literature on financial obfuscation and explore controversies centered on police foundation solicitation and use of private funds in North America. Conceptualizing these private entities as shell corporations that permit transactions in dark money, we raise questions about police foundation transparency. We conclude by discussing the implications for public policy as well as police transparency across North America.

British Journal of Criminology, 58(4)