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Local Police Departments, 1997: Executive Summary and Sheriffs' Departments, 1997: Executive Summary

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29, 1999               202/307-0784 

     WASHINGTON, D.C.   Local police departments
had an estimated 531,496 full-time employees as of
June 1997, the Justice Department's Bureau of
Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today.  Of these
employees about 420,000 were sworn personnel
(officers with arrest powers).  Local police
employment was up by an average of about 3 percent
per year since 1993, compared to about 1 percent
annually from 1987 through 1993.
     Sheriffs' departments had an estimated 263,427
full-time employees, including about 175,000 sworn
personnel.  Total employment was up by an average
4.4 percent per year since 1993, compared to 3.1
percent annually from 1987 through 1993. 
     The data are from BJS' Law Enforcement
Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS)
series, which collects and publishes information
from law enforcement agencies every three to four
     The composition of police forces in the United
States is changing, the LEMAS report noted.  There
are increasing numbers of minority and women
officers and more departments requiring college.
     Members of racial and ethnic minority groups
comprised 21.5 percent of full-time sworn local
police officers, compared  to 19.1 percent in 1993,
17.0 percent in 1990 and 14.6 percent in 1987. 
Minority group membership among sworn personnel in
sheriffs' departments grew from 13.4 percent in
1987 to 19 percent in 1997.
     Fourteen percent of local police departments,
employing 31 percent of all local police officers,
required new recruits to have completed at least
some college.  One percent required a 4-year
degree, as did 1 percent of sheriffs' departments.
     Fifty-six percent of local police officers
worked for a department with a formal, written
community policing policy, as did 33 percent of
sheriffs' officers.  Thirty-eight percent of both
local police and sheriffs' departments had sworn
personnel assigned full-time as school resource
officers.  Nationwide in 1997 there were about
9,400 police officers and 2,900 sheriffs' deputies
in schools.
     Eighty-three percent of the police departments
and 85 percent of the sheriffs' departments had
written policies on the proper handling of domestic
     Ninety-three percent of both local police and
sheriffs' departments had written policies on
pursuit driving.  Six percent of local police
departments and five percent of sheriffs'
departments discouraged all vehicle pursuits.
     In 1997, 85 percent of all local police
departments, employing 97 percent of all officers,
participated in 911 emergency telephone systems,
compared to 84 percent of sheriffs' departments,
employing 88 percent of all officers.
     Ninety-one percent of both police and
sheriffs' departments, in each case employing 99
percent of all officers, had written policies on
the use of deadly force.  Almost all police and
sheriffs' departments authorized the use of
non-lethal weapons, such as pepper spray and
batons, in appropriate circumstances.  
     From 1993 through 1997 the percentage of local
police officers employed by a department that
authorized the use of pepper spray increased from
69 percent to 90 percent, and for sheriffs'
deputies from 64 percent to 90 percent.  
Forty-three percent of police departments and 40
percent of sheriffs' departments required all
patrol officers to wear body armor while on duty.
     Police departments operated about 215,000
automobiles and sheriffs' departments used about
100,000 cars.  In each case about a third of these
vehicles were unmarked.   
     About two-thirds of sheriffs' deputies and
three-fourths of local police officers worked for a
department that used computers or terminals in the
field, away from their office, up from 50 percent
and 55 percent respectively in 1993.
     Starting salaries for local police officers
averaged about $28,400, ranging from about $18,800
in the smallest jurisdictions to $30,600 in the
largest.  For sheriffs' deputies, starting salaries
averaged about $26,000, ranging from $19,400 to
     About two-thirds of all local police officers
worked for departments that authorized collective
bargaining, as did about half of sheriffs' deputies.
     During fiscal year 1997, local police
department operating expenditures amounted to
$67,100 per sworn officer, and sheriffs'
departments spent $73,000 per sworn deputy.
     The two reports, "Sheriffs' Departments 1997"
(NCJ-172428) and "Local Police Departments 1997" 
(NCJ-173429), were written by BJS statisticians
Brian A. Reaves and Andrew L. Goldberg.  Executive
summaries of  "Sheriffs' Departments 1997"
(NCJ-179011) and  "Local Police Departments 1997" 
(NCJ-178934) may be obtained from the BJS
fax-on-demand system by dialing 301/519-5550,
listening to the complete menu and  selecting
document numbers 171 or 172.  Or call the BJS
clearinghouse number: 1-800-732-3277.  Fax orders
for mail delivery to 410/792-4358.  The BJS
Internet site is:
     Additional criminal justice materials can be
obtained from the Office of Justice Programs
homepage at:
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After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354
Date Published: October 29, 1999