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Police Departments in Large Cities, 1990-2000

SUNDAY, May 12, 2002 202/307-0784


WASHINGTON, DC - From 1990 to 2000, police departments serving cities with a population of 250,000 or more increased their classroom and field training requirements for new officers from a median of 1,280 hours to 1,480 hours, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. During this period the percentage of large-city departments that require new officers to meet some type of college education requirement rose from 19 percent to 37 percent, and those that required a two-year or four-year degree increased from 6 to 14 percent.

Despite those more stringent qualifications, the departmental average for starting salaries for new officers decreased slightly after controlling for inflation, from $35,002 to $34,556. Per resident annual operating costs were up by about 10 percent, from $242 to $266.

The percentage of full-time sworn personnel in large cities who were members of a racial or ethnic minority increased from 30 percent to 38 percent. Hispanic officers increased from 9 percent to 14 percent in 2000 and blacks from 18 percent to 20 percent. Female officers rose from 12 to 16 percent.

From 1990 to 2000, the 62 departments serving cities with a population of 250,000 or more increased their number of full-time sworn personnel by 17 percent from 130,242 to 152,858, accounting for 22 percent of all state and local officers nationwide. These departments served a population of almost 50 million people in 2000, about 18 percent of all U.S. residents.

Large city police departments were also more likely to use computer-related technology in 2000 than in 1990. For example, those using in-field computers increased from 73 percent to 92 percent, automated fingerprint identification systems from 60 to 97 percent, and enhanced 911 systems from 76 percent to 97 percent.

The percent of large-city departments with full-time domestic violence units rose from 50 percent to 81 percent; those with full-time victim assistance units increased from 32 percent to 47 percent. In 2000 nearly all departments had full-time sworn personnel serving as community policing officers, and 71 percent had a formal, written community policing plan. All departments said they met quarterly with citizen groups to discuss crime-related problems. The use of bicycle patrol increased over the decade from 39 percent to 98 percent of departments.

During the 1990s violent crime decreased by 34 percent in these large cities and property crime decreased by 31 percent. These jurisdictions accounted for 38 percent of violent crime in the U.S. in 2000, compared to 45 percent in 1990.

The data cited are primarily from the 1990 and 2000 Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey. BJS conducts the LEMAS survey periodically to collect data from state and local law enforcement agencies about their personnel, budgets, operations, equipment, computers and information systems, written policies, and special programs. The special report, "Police Departments in Large Cities, 1990-2000" (NCJ-175703), was written by BJS statisticians Brian A. Reaves and Matthew J. Hickman. Single copies may be obtained by calling the BJS Clearinghouse at 1-800/732-3277. After the release date it will also be available at:


The BJS Internet site is: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/

Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained from the Office of Justice Programs homepage at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov

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After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354
E-mail: [email protected]

Date Published: May 12, 2002