Police Employment, Officers Per Capita Rates for U.S. Cities

Cities' police officer per capita rates vary depending on a range of factors, from crime rates to city budgets. In 2012, police departments serving cities with more than 50,000 residents employed an average of 17 officers per 10,000 residents.

Cities with the greatest police presence include Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Chicago. 

The table below lists 2012 police officer per capita rates for all agencies serving at least 50,000 residents that reported data to the FBI.

Source: 2012 Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, Full-time Law Enforcement Employees


Interpreting the Data

  • The FBI defines officers as employees who “ordinarily carry a firearm and a badge, have full arrest powers, and are paid from governmental funds set aside specifically to pay sworn law enforcement.”
  • Common civilian positions include dispatchers, clerks and correctional officers.
  • Multiple agencies serving a single jurisdiction are not reflected in per capita totals.
  • Employee counts were reported by individual law enforcement agencies and are current as of October 2012.

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