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

Cities' police officer per capita rates vary depending on a range of factors. In 2015, police departments serving cities with populations exceeding 50,000 employed an average of 16.6 officers and 21.4 total personnel for every 10,000 residents.

Washington, D.C., Wilmington, Del., and Baltimore recorded the highest tallies of officers per capita among cities reporting data to the FBI. In general, the largest U.S. cities tend to employ more police officers per capita than mid-sized and smaller jurisdictions.

Jurisdiction Population Average Total Personnel Per 10k Population Average Officers Per 10k Population Number of Agencies
50,000-100,000 20.4 15.9 419
100,000-200,000 21.0 16.1 165
200,000-500,000 24.4 18.6 73
500,000+ 29.8 23.7 33
All Departments 21.4 16.6 690
SOURCE: Governing calculations of 2015 FBI UCR data.

The following table shows numbers of officers and total law enforcement (including civilian employees) per 10,000 residents as of 2015. Data is shown for all law enforcement agencies serving jurisdictions of at least 50,000 that are recorded in the FBI's UCR data.

SOURCE: Governing calculations of 2015 FBI UCR data.

Data notes

  • 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.”
  • Law enforcement associations and published research recommends that departments base staffing decisions on performance objectives that also consider an analysis of an agency’s current workload and future projections.
  • Total employee figures include civilian positions, such as dispatchers, clerks and correctional officers.
  • Multiple agencies serving a single jurisdiction are not reflected in per capita totals.
  • Some larger agencies, including the Chicago Police Department, did not report data to the FBI.
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg data reflect only the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and exclude the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office.

 

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