2022 Police Employment Statistics

Louisiana, New Mexico, and North Dakota have the most police officers per 1,000 residents.
Rob Gabriele

Local police budgets have become a political lightning rod in recent years. Following the murder of Black motorist George Floyd by white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, calls to “defund the police” rang out frequently in 2020. Protesters and activists wanted police spending to be reallocated to other line items on municipal budgets, but their demands were not heeded in most cities.

Though most municipalities did not cut their police budgets, departments across the U.S. have said they are undergoing serious staffing problems. Many are unable to attract enough recruits to fill the ranks at their departments.

We wanted to understand how police staffing has changed in the U.S. over the past decade and explore which states have the highest numbers of police officers — including patrol officers, detectives, and correctional officers — and why these numbers may vary across the country or over time. The methodology at the bottom of the page explains fully how we used data from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics (BLS). Here are a few of our major findings:

  • The total number of police employed in the U.S. declined by about 10,000 between 2012 and 2021. Though this is a one percent difference, the U.S. population grew seven percent over the same time period.
  • Louisiana has the highest population-adjusted employment rate of police officers, followed closely by New Mexico, North Dakota, and New York. Washington and Utah have the lowest rates.
  • Police officers in Alaska earn about 33 percent more than average workers in Alaska. This was the highest difference in the country. Mississippi police, on the other hand, make 18 percent less than the average workers in the state.

What States Have the Most Police Officers?

According to BLS data, about 1.2 million Americans are working as police officers, a number that barely changed over the past decade. The number dropped by just one percentage point within a ten-year period.

Over that same period, the total number of Americans employed in any job rose by about eight percent, meaning police employment lags by a considerable degree. Additionally, the U.S. population increased by about 7 percent over the same time period.

On a population-adjusted basis, there are 3.5 police officers for every 1,000 Americans. This figure has also declined slightly over the past decade, dropping from 3.7 per 1,000 residents.


State Officers per 1,000 residents Total officers employed
Louisiana 4.78 22,110
New Mexico 4.76 10,080
North Dakota 4.76 3,690
New York 4.76 94,380
Arizona 4.43 32,270
Mississippi 4.06 11,990
Wyoming 4.04 2,340
Arkansas 4.03 12,200
Texas 3.93 116,010
Virginia 3.87 33,440
Alabama 3.86 19,450
South Dakota 3.82 3,420
Delaware 3.77 3,780
North Carolina 3.74 39,450
West Virginia 3.74 6,660
Illinois 3.73 47,300
New Jersey 3.68 34,110
Oklahoma 3.64 14,530
Kansas 3.62 10,620
Alaska 3.62 2,650
Pennsylvania 3.59 46,530
South Carolina 3.54 18,360
Massachusetts 3.53 24,690
Nebraska 3.52 6,910
Wisconsin 3.49 20,590
Montana 3.49 3,850
Missouri 3.44 21,240
Tennessee 3.41 23,770
Ohio 3.38 39,850
Florida 3.38 73,580
Georgia 3.34 36,090
Colorado 3.27 19,020
Maryland 3.17 19,530
Connecticut 3.15 11,370
Indiana 3.13 21,290
California 3.04 119,200
Nevada 3.00 9,430
Hawaii 2.94 4,240
Vermont 2.93 1,890
Rhode Island 2.90 3,180
New Hampshire 2.81 3,900
Kentucky 2.75 12,410
Maine 2.73 3,740
Minnesota 2.71 15,470
Michigan 2.70 27,090
Idaho 2.67 5,070
Iowa 2.64 8,440
Oregon 2.46 10,440
Utah 2.22 7,420
Washington 2.21 17,120

Overall, the nation’s largest states, California, Texas, and New York, have the most police officers. But the story changes when the number of police officers in a state is compared to the number of residents. 

Just over half of the states have a higher population-adjusted rate of police employment than the U.S. as a whole. Excluding the District of Columbia, which is more like a city than a state, the highest population-adjusted rate of police employment is in Louisiana, with New Mexico close behind. These states have nearly five officers for every 1,000 residents. The lowest ratios are in Washington and Utah, where there are about two police officers for every 1,000 residents.

Though many factors influence crime rates and police employment, our analysis showed that states with higher violent crime rates tend to have more police officers per capita. This could suggest that some states are attempting to reduce crime by adding more police to their forces. For instance, New Mexico, Alaska, Louisiana and Arkansas had both high rates of violent crime and high rates of police compared to the number of residents.

Conversely, states like Utah, Maine, New Hampshire, and Idaho had low rates of police officers and low incidence of violent crime. 

Where Do Police Earn the Most Money?

According to the BLS, the average annual wage for police officers is $67,803, which is about $4,000 more than the overall average wage for American workers. And while everyone has been affected by inflation (especially recently), police wages have stagnated more than others.

Adjusting for inflation, the average wage among all workers has increased nearly six percent over a decade. However, the average police officer’s wage has only risen about three percent.


State Average annual wage all workers Average annual police wage Police wage compared to all workers
Alaska $70,658 $93,780 33% higher
California $77,099 $97,247 26% higher
District of Columbia $83,827 $102,910 23% higher
Nevada $61,229 $74,990 22% higher
New Jersey $73,606 $89,950 22% higher
Illinois $66,138 $80,647 22% higher
Hawaii $69,585 $84,650 22% higher
Oregon $67,350 $81,707 21% higher
Washington $74,398 $87,967 18% higher
Maryland $70,146 $82,140 17% higher
Delaware $65,249 $75,663 16% higher
Pennsylvania $64,773 $75,097 16% higher
New York $76,646 $86,580 13% higher
Colorado $68,059 $76,337 12% higher
Wisconsin $61,622 $68,647 11% higher
Vermont $60,406 $67,147 11% higher
Michigan $63,426 $70,400 11% higher
Iowa $61,182 $67,730 11% higher
Rhode Island $71,182 $78,095 10% higher
West Virginia $54,099 $58,940 9% higher
Florida $59,634 $64,607 8% higher
Massachusetts $75,980 $82,143 8% higher
Minnesota $67,525 $72,587 7% higher
Arizona $62,832 $67,090 7% higher
Montana $59,259 $62,657 6% higher
Idaho $56,594 $59,833 6% higher
Ohio $62,725 $66,020 5% higher
Utah $60,240 $63,140 5% higher
South Dakota $54,878 $57,050 4% higher
Connecticut $73,019 $75,637 4% higher
North Dakota $62,097 $63,510 2% higher
Nebraska $61,165 $62,370 2% higher
New Hampshire $65,430 $66,690 2% higher
Wyoming $61,414 $62,523 2% higher
Texas $63,738 $64,463 1% higher
Virginia $67,175 $67,740 1% higher
Oklahoma $55,474 $54,673 -1% lower
Maine $61,838 $60,750 -2% lower
Indiana $60,594 $57,840 -5% lower
New Mexico $60,490 $56,613 -6% lower
Kentucky $57,948 $53,760 -7% lower
Alabama $59,158 $54,340 -8% lower
Missouri $59,772 $54,390 -9% lower
Tennessee $59,363 $53,743 -9% lower
Kansas $58,745 $52,937 -10% lower
South Carolina $59,097 $52,197 -12% lower
Louisiana $57,217 $50,310 -12% lower
North Carolina $61,394 $53,137 -13% lower
Georgia $61,996 $53,607 -14% lower
Arkansas $55,884 $47,157 -16% lower
Mississippi $53,136 $43,827 -18% lower

Alaska’s officers were earning 33 percent more than the average worker in the state, which was the greatest difference across the country. California police officers earned over $97,000 a year on average, which was 26 percent more than the average income for all workers in the state. 


In 36 states and Washington D.C., police officers generally earned more than the average worker, but in 15 states, police officers earned less than the average person. Mississippi officers earned $43,827 a year, which was almost 20 percent less than the statewide average for all workers. Arkansas was not much better, with their officers earning 16 percent less than the average wage. 


Some states with lower-than-average police wages had high rates of violent crime, such as Louisiana and Arkansas. Over time, a combination of low wages and difficult work environments could cause more officers to change careers.

What Influences Police Employment and Pay?

While some headlines have suggested that there’s a police staffing crisis on a national level, the reality is much murkier. Even amid the pandemic, which led many people to rethink their employment situation, local police departments lost fewer workers than the rest of the economy.


In some states, officers do enjoy competitive wages, but overtime payments aren’t typically included in the averages. These overtime payments can add thousands to officers’ paychecks and make the job more appealing.


A Bloomberg analysis found that in New York City, the police department regularly spends well beyond its budget due to overtime pay. Bloomberg found that the majority of NYPD officers worked about 375 overtime hours in fiscal year 2020 — the equivalent of just over seven hours per week. This added pay can easily bump a modest wage into six figures based on a standard overtime wage of time-and-a-half; an NYPD officer earning the state average wage for police of $86,580 would earn nearly $110,000 for those extra hours. 

On the other hand, a Pew Research Center survey found that an overwhelming majority of police officers say their departments are short-staffed (86 percent). Officers working on too-small teams may feel burnt out or even fearful that there may not be backup when they need it. This dynamic could make it difficult for some departments to retain or hire officers.


We examined data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for this report. Wanting to focus on sworn officers rather than others who might work in law enforcement, our analysis was limited to employment and wage data for police and sheriff’s patrol officers, detectives and criminal investigators, and correctional officers and jailers. We consulted data for the years 2021 and 2012 to inform our 10-year analysis. (Tables created by the BLS can be found here.)


For a handful of states, data for those years was unavailable, so we made substitutions with data for other years within a two-year range. For Delaware, data on detectives and patrol officers came from 2011 and 2021; for Nebraska, data on detectives came from 2011 and 2021; for Nevada, data on correctional officers came from 2013 and 2021; for North Dakota, data on detectives came from 2011 and 2021; and for Vermont, data on correctional officers came from 2013 and 2021.