BJS collects data on agency characteristics through two core law enforcement agency surveys: the Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies (CSLLEA) and the Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey.
- CSLLEA collects the number of sworn and civilian personnel by state and type of agency for all publicly funded state, county, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in the United States. Data collected also include the functions performed by each agency.
- LEMAS collects data from a nationally representative sample of over 3,000 general-purpose law enforcement agencies. Data are collected 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, technologies employed, vehicles, special units, and community policing activities.
CSLLEA and LEMAS are both primary data collections under the Law Enforcement Core Statistics (LECS) Program.
One difference between a sheriff's office and police department is the jurisdiction that each type of agency covers. While both sheriffs' offices and police departments are law enforcement agencies, sheriffs' offices have countywide jurisdiction and police departments' authority is limited to specific cities, municipalities, towns, or villages. In addition, sheriffs' offices are generally empowered by the state to serve counties and independent cities, while police departments are established under municipal regulations. The head of a sheriff's office is a sheriff who is usually an elected official. The head of a police department is usually the chief, who is typically appointed by a government entity, such as mayor, city manager, or a commissioner.
In 2020, about 14% of full-time sworn officers employed by local police departments and sheriffs’ offices were female. As of 2020, 4% of local police chiefs and 1% of sheriffs were female. About 9% of intermediate supervisors (those between chiefs and sergeants or first-line supervisors) in local police departments and 10% in sheriffs’ offices were female. About 10% of first-line supervisors (sergeants) in local police departments and 12% in sheriffs’ offices were female.
According to the 2020 BJS Law Enforcement and Management Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey, departments serving 100,000 to 249,999 and 50,000 to 99,999 residents had the lowest average ratio (1.6 officers per 1,000 residents). Departments serving populations of 1 million or more had 3.0 officers per 1,000 residents.