The news will have you think that law enforcement officers are being killed by the bushel basket. They are being killed, but in reality the occupation is ranked 18th as far as being hazardous by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2017. Of course, if one officer is murdered, it’s too many.

I worked as a police officer for 42 years. My first retirement was at 50 years of age with full benefits.  My wife and I traveled for a year. I soon went back to work and put in 11 additional years from another department and retired again at 63. Now folks, I started with minimal college, a local police academy and then yearly in-service training as required by the state.  

The reason I bring this up is because people think that you need a college degree to be successful. That’s like saying you need Algebra 2 to make it through life. The average salary for a police officer, not counting promoted positions or any overtime, is $62,000 annually. Side work for police officers usually pays $35 to $40 an hour with most working 8 to 16 hours of side jobs a week.  

What about the danger? It depends on where you work. If you work in the hood for a large municipal department it would stand to reason that you would see more crime. However, large departments don’t necessarily pay the most. Medium size suburban cities are now paying top dollar and have good benefits plus bonuses for new hires. Most even offer money for higher education that is paid back through time served.

More money, more benefits and less crime = less danger.

What happened? It turns out a lot of large cities couldn’t sustain the benefits because of poor investments and popular retirement incentives. That means benefits are slashed. The small-to-medium cities were mostly on a state municipal retirement plan and they could not manipulate the money. In the long run they have come out ahead.

I have a friend who graduated with a PhD and works for the same university where she attended graduate school. She is up to her ears in educational loans and will not be able to retire until she is over 70. Her current salary is $55,000 per year plus benefits. As I have stated, I’m not an overly educated person, but even I know that she has made a poor investment for the return.Here are the top 25 most dangerous jobs in the United States:

  1. Fishers and related fishing workers
  2. Logging workers
  3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
  4. Roofers 
  5. Reusable and recyclable material collectors
  6. Structural iron and steel workers
  7. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
  8. Farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers
  9. First-line supervisors of landscaping, lawn service and grounds-keeping workers
  10. Electrical power-line installers and repairers
  11. Miscellaneous agricultural workers
  12. First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers
  13. Helpers, construction trades
  14. Maintenance and repair workers, general
  15. Grounds maintenance workers
  16. Construction laborers
  17. First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers and repairers
  18. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers
  19. Operation engineers and other construction equipment operators
  20. Mining machine operators
  21. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
  22. Athletes, coaches, umpires and related workers
  23. Painters, construction and maintenance
  24. Firefighters
  25. Electricians

It turns out that police officers are not even in the top 10.  What makes police jobs hard to fill is that many that are killed die a violent death.

Trey Rusk served as a law enforcement officer for 42 years.