Because of differing service requirements and functions, care should be taken when using the data presented in this section to draw comparisons between and among the staffing levels of law enforcement agencies. What follows is not intended as recommended or preferred officer strength; the data should be viewed merely as guides.
Each year, the staff of the UCR Program ask law enforcement agencies across the United States to report the total number of sworn law enforcement officers and civilians in their agency as of October 31. This section of Crime in the United States presents that data as the number and rate of law enforcement officers and civilian employees throughout the United States. In 2004, 14,254 state, city, university and college, metropolitan and nonmetropolitan county, and other law enforcement agencies employed 675,734 sworn officers and 294,854 civilians, who provided law enforcement services to more than 278 million people nationwide. (See Table 74.)
The data in this section are broken down by geographic region and division, population group, state, city, university and college, metropolitan and nonmetropolitan county, and other law enforcement agencies. (Information about geographic region and division and population group can be found in Appendix III.) The staff of the UCR Program compute the rate of sworn officers and law enforcement employees by taking the number of employees (sworn officers only or in combination with civilians), dividing by the population for which the agency provides law enforcement service, and multiplying by 1,000.
The demographic traits and characteristics of a jurisdiction affect its requirements for law enforcement service. For instance, a hamlet between two large cities may require more law enforcement presence than a community of the same size that does not have a nearby urban center. A town with legal gambling may have different law enforcement needs than one near a military base. Cities composed mostly of college students may have different law enforcement service requirements than cities whose residents are mainly retirees.
Similarly, the functions of law enforcement agencies are significantly diverse. They patrol local streets and major highways, they protect citizens in the Nation’s smallest towns and largest cities, they conduct investigations on offenses around the block or around the state. State police in one area may enforce traffic laws on state highways and interstates; in another area, the state police may be responsible for investigating violent crimes. Sheriff’s departments may collect tax monies, they may serve as the enforcement authority for local and state courts, or they may administer jail facilities. These duties have an impact on an agency’s staffing levels.
Because of the differing service requirements and functions, care should be taken when using the data presented in this section to draw comparisons between and among the staffing levels of law enforcement agencies. What follows is not intended as recommended or preferred officer strength; the data should be viewed merely as guides. Adequate staffing levels can be determined only after careful study of the conditions that affect the service requirements in a particular jurisdiction.
The national rate of full-time law enforcement employees per 1,000 inhabitants remained at 3.5 in 2004, unchanged from the 2003 rate. (Based on Table 74.)
Among the Nation’s four regions, law enforcement agencies in the Northeast had the highest rate of law enforcement employees, 3.5 law enforcement employees for every 1,000 inhabitants. Agencies in the South had 3.4 law enforcement employees per 1,000 inhabitants, in the Midwest, 2.7, and in the West, 2.4. (See Table 70.)
An examination of the 2004 law enforcement employee data by population group showed that in the Nation’s cities collectively there were 3.0 law enforcement employees per 1,000 inhabitants. Of the population groups with the city label, cities with 10,000 or less in population had the highest rate of law enforcement employees, 4.2 per 1,000 inhabitants. Cities with 25,000 to 49,999 inhabitants and cities with 50,000 to 99,999 inhabitants had the lowest rate, 2.3 law enforcement employees per 1,000 in population. The Nation’s largest cities, those with 250,000 or more inhabitants, averaged 3.8 law enforcement employees for every 1,000 inhabitants. (See Table 70.) The law enforcement agencies in the Nation’s metropolitan counties averaged 4.4 employees per 1,000 inhabitants; agencies in the Nation’s nonmetropolitan counties collectively reported having 4.5 law enforcement personnel for each 1,000 inhabitants. (Based on Table 74.)
The UCR Program defines law enforcement officers as individuals who ordinarily carry a firearm and a badge, have full arrest powers, and are paid from governmental funds set aside specifically for sworn law enforcement representatives.
An analysis of the 2004 data concerning only sworn law enforcement personnel showed that by region, law enforcement agencies in the cities in the Northeast had the highest rate of sworn officers, 2.7, per 1,000 inhabitants. The rate of law enforcement officers for each 1,000 in population was 2.6 in the South, 2.2 in the Midwest, and 1.7 in the West. (See Table 71.)
By population group, there were 2.3 sworn officers for each 1,000 resident population in the Nation’s cities collectively. That rate was unchanged from the 2003 data. Of the population groups labeled city, the cities of 10,000 or less in population had the highest rate, 3.3 officers per 1,000 inhabitants in 2004. Two city population groups, those with populations from 25,000 to 49,999 and those with 50,000 to 99,999 had the lowest rate, 1.8 officers per 1,000 inhabitants. The Nation’s largest cities, those with 250,000 or more inhabitants averaged 2.8 officers per 1,000 in population. (See Table 71.) Law enforcement agencies in the Nation’s metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties averaged 2.6 and 2.7 officers, respectively, for each 1,000 in population. (Based on Table 74.)
A review by gender of the 2004 data submitted about sworn officers showed that in the Nation as well as in cities overall, 88.4 percent of law enforcement officers were male and 11.6 percent were female. The review also revealed that in the Nation’s metropolitan counties, 86.7 percent of officers were male and 13.3 percent were female; in the Nation’s nonmetropolitan counties, 91.9 percent of officers were male and 8.1 percent were female. (See Table 74.)
Civilian employees provide a myriad of services to the law enforcement and criminal justice agencies around the United States. Among other duties, they dispatch officers, they provide administrative and recordkeeping support, and they query local, state, and national databases.
Across the United States in 2004, 30.4 percent of all law enforcement employees were civilians. Civilians comprised 23.2 percent of employees at law enforcement agencies in the Nation’s cities overall. In the Nation’s metropolitan counties, civilians comprised 40.3 percent of law enforcement employees; in the Nation’s nonmetropolitan counties, civilians accounted for 39.7 percent. Of the civilians working in law enforcement agencies throughout the Nation, 62.1 percent were female and 37.9 percent were male. (See Tables 74 and 75.)
In 2004, 57 law enforcement officers were feloniously slain in the line of duty during 50 incidents compared with 52 officers who were killed in 46 incidents in 2003. A breakdown of the 2004 data by region showed that 27 officers were killed in the South, 10 officers were killed in the Midwest, 9 officers were killed in the West, and 8 officers were killed in the Northeast. Also, 2 officers were slain in Puerto Rico, and 1 was slain in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In addition, 82 officers died in line-of-duty accidents in 2004 compared with 81 officers who were accidentally killed in 2003. The UCR publication Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted contains more extensive information regarding line-of-duty deaths and assaults on city, county, state, tribal, and federal officers.