1987, 1990, 1993, 1997, 1999 (limited scope), 2000, 2003, 2007, 2013, 2016, 2020
Conducted periodically since 1987, the LEMAS core collects data from over 3,000 general-purpose, county, and local law enforcement agencies, including all those that employ 100 or more full-time sworn officers and a nationally representative sample of smaller agencies. Data are obtained on agency responsibilities, operating expenditures, job functions of sworn and civilian employees, officer salaries and special pay, demographic characteristics of officers, weapons and armor policies, education and training requirements, computers and information systems, vehicles, special units, and community policing activities.
Beginning in 2016, the Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey adopted a core and supplement structure. Due to the breadth of the survey, detailed analysis of any specific law enforcement topic cannot be done with the LEMAS core. The LEMAS supplements are designed to fill this void by allowing for a more comprehensive examination on a key topic in law enforcement and are administered between core years. The 2016 LEMAS Body-Worn Camera Supplement is the first supplement administered under the new structure.
The Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey collects data from a nationally representative sample of state, county, and local law enforcement agencies in the United States. For most questions, a reference date of December 31, 2020 was used.
The full 2020 LEMAS sample included 3,499 state and local law enforcement agencies. The sample represented all general-purpose state and local law enforcement agencies in the United States with the equivalent of at least one full-time sworn officer, with separate samples drawn for local police departments and sheriffs’ offices. General-purpose law enforcement agencies include municipal, county, and regional police departments; most sheriffs’ offices; and primary state and highway patrol agencies. They are distinct from special-purpose agencies, sheriffs’ offices with jail and court duties only, and federal law enforcement agencies. Full-time sworn officers are those with general arrest powers. Employees who are regularly scheduled to work 35 or more hours per week are considered full-time. All 49 primary state police agencies were included. Hawaii does not have a primary state police agency. Agencies serving special jurisdictions (such as tribal lands, schools, airports, or parks) or with special enforcement responsibilities (such as enforcing conservation or alcohol laws) were out of scope for the survey. Sheriffs’ offices without primary law enforcement jurisdiction in the counties they served and federal law enforcement agencies were also ineligible for the LEMAS survey. This includes sheriffs’ offices with jail and court duties only.
After completing the 2020 LEMAS survey, if an agency did not report having at least one full-time equivalent sworn officer (either one full-time sworn officer or two part-time sworn officers) as of December 31, 2020, the agency was considered ineligible. After removing out-of-scope agencies, the final sample size for the survey was 3,462, including 2,631 local police departments, 802 sheriffs’ offices, and 49 state law enforcement agencies.
A total of 2,704 agencies responded to the LEMAS questionnaire, for a response rate of 78%. The final data includes responses from 2,040 local police departments, 581 sheriffs' offices, and 48 state law enforcement. The overall response rate was 79% for local police departments, 72% for sheriffs' offices, and 98% for state law enforcement agencies.
In 2016, BJS administered the first LEMAS supplement on body-worn cameras (BWCs). The LEMAS Body-Worn Camera Supplement (LEMAS-BWCS) collected data from a nationally representative sample of about 5,000 general-purpose law enforcement agencies. The survey was administered to agencies regardless of whether they had BWCs and contained items for agencies with and without BWCs. The LEMAS-BWCS used the same sampling strategy as the LEMAS core but increased the sample size in order to power analysis for agencies with and without BWCs.
A total of 87 agencies were found to be ineligible for the LEMAS-BWCS. The final sample size of 4,976 agencies included 3,707 local and county police departments, 1,220 sheriffs' offices, and all 49 primary state police agencies.
A total of 3,928 agencies responded to the LEMAS-BWCS, for a response rate of 79%. The overall response rate for local police departments was 80%, 77% for sheriffs' offices, and 90% for primary state agencies.