Police agencies across the country are recruiting thousands of civilians for a growing number of duties previously performed by uniformed cops, in an unusual concession to local budget cuts.
The positions -- some paid and others volunteer -- are transforming every-day citizens into crime-scene investigators, evidence gatherers and photographers in what some analysts suggest is a striking new trend in American policing.
"It's all being driven by the economy and we should expect to see more of it," says University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris, who analyzes law enforcement practices. "As budgets are squeezed, an increasing number of duties are going to be moved off officers' plates."
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