Dexter: Serial Killer or Fiscal Miracle?

December 28, 2011 in Editorial

It has seized on a deep seated fear in American culture and triumphed in ratings and critical reviews: Dexter, the show about a serial killer whose targets are well… other serial killers. Dexter Morgan, the main character and lab geek working for Miami metro homicide is played by actor Michael C. Hall and throughout the series happens upon more than his fair share of fellow serial killers. He not only has a knack for jiu-jitsu but also an uncanny ability to recognize his fellow killers. It seems a bit strange that there are so many serial killers in Miami for Dexter to find, especially since the FBI estimates that there are probably only about 100 serial killers active in the entire US at any one time (and that is on the high end). Even so, it is interesting to note that Dexter performs some kind of service to the city of Miami when he disposes of these serial killers. Regardless of the moral implications of his actions, he undoubtedly saves money for the Miami police department and federal government by removing his peers. Assuming all of these individuals would actually be pursued by police investigators, vast resources would need to be utilized in labor costs alone. For instance, 13 people were killed by Dexter in the first season alone.

Centives investigated the cost of attempting to catch a large-scale serial killer located in a major US city and found it to be around 265,000 dollars per day in current dollars. In order to determine the approximate savings realized through a lack of inquiry into Dexter’s victims, Centives estimates that about half of the serial killers would eventually be investigated. Son of Sam, a notorious serial killer in New York, was investigated for about a year before he was caught, and so this was a benchmark for our timeframe for each investigation. With these numbers, in just one season of Dexter, 7 serial killers would be investigated for about a year each at a cost of 265,000 dollars a day. This would yield a result of a staggering 677 million dollars. Because, many resources would overlap, this number should be reduced somewhat, so our final estimate is about 500 million dollars. Off hand, this number seems very high, but keep in mind, the odds of 7 serial killers being investigated in one city in this short of a time is extremely low. If however we assume there is just one major investigation in this span of time, Dexter saves the government 96 million dollars. Whether he is good or evil, one thing is for certain, Dexter is good for the police budget.