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Local Police Departments, 2013: Personnel, Policies, and Practices

ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 10:00 A.M. EDT Bureau of Justice Statistics
THURSDAY, MAY 14, 2015                          Contact: Kara McCarthy (202) 307-1241
HTTP://WWW.BJS.GOV/ After hours: (202) 598-9320


WASHINGTON – In 2013, the percentage of police officers who were members of racial or ethnic minority groups (black or African American, Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaska Native, and persons of Hispanic or Latino origin) was nearly double that of the late 1980s, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today.

Racial or ethnic minorities accounted for 27 percent of local police officers in 2013, a slight increase from 25 percent in 2007 and up from about 15 percent in 1987.

About 130,000 minority local police officers were employed in 2013, an increase of about 78,000 since 1987. Hispanics or Latinos accounted for 60 percent of the increase since 2007. An estimated 12 percent of officers were Hispanic or Latino in 2013, which was more than double the estimated 5 percent in 1987. 

Black officers made up about 12 percent of local police officers in 2013, up from about 9 percent in 1987. Officers identified as Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaska Native accounted for 3 percent of local police officers in 2013 and 2007, which was about four times higher than in 1987. In general, departments in larger jurisdictions were more diverse than those in smaller ones.

The number and percentage of full-time sworn female officers also increased since 1987. About 58,000 females were employed as local police officers in 2013, compared to about 27,000 in 1987. This was an increase from an estimated 5 percent to 12 percent of officers during the period. In addition, nearly one in 10 first-line supervisors in local police departments were female. An estimated 3 percent of local police chiefs were female.

In 2013, local police departments employed an estimated 477,000 full-time sworn officers who had general arrest powers, a 34 percent increase from the number of sworn officers in 1987. More recently, the number of full-time sworn officers increased by an estimated 3.1 percent between 2007 and 2013.  

About a third (32 percent) of the more than 12,000 local police departments also used unpaid reserve or auxiliary officers. Nationwide, there were more than 29,000 local police reserve or auxiliary officers in 2013.

Other key findings include—

  • About half (48 percent) of local police departments employed fewer than 10 officers.
  • Municipal and township police departments, which made up 98 percent of local police departments nationwide, employed an average of 2.1 full-time officers per 1,000 residents in 2013. This was down slightly from 2.3 officers per 1,000 residents in 2007.
  • After adjusting for inflation, the average starting salary for entry-level local police officers in 2013 ($44,400) was about the same as in 2003.
  • An estimated 15 percent of police departments had some type of college requirement, including 10 percent that required a two-year degree and one percent that required a four-year degree.
  • Nearly one in four local police officers worked for a department that required entry-level officers to have a two-year college degree.
  • Most departments with 100 or more officers had full-time specialized units to address child abuse, juvenile crime, gangs and domestic violence.

The report, Local Police Departments, 2013: Personnel, Policies, and Practices (NCJ 248677), was written by BJS statistician Brian A. Reaves. Findings are based on data from the Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey. The report, related documents and additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ statistical publications and programs can be found on the BJS website at http://www.bjs.gov/.

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The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has six components: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. More information about OJP can be found at http://www.ojp.gov.




Date Published: May 14, 2015