Rate of Police Officers Decrease By 11 Percent

The increase in full-time law enforcement officers does not keep pace with the growth in population (8 percent versus 21 percent). Moreover, the rate of full-time police officers decreased by 11 percent from 1997 to 2016.


There are dozens of newspaper articles about cops leaving and recruitment problems. This is the first definitive proof of the impact comparing rates and ratios to the general population.

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(Photo courtesy Danny Griswold, retired, Boynton Beach Police Department)

From 1997 to 2016, the number of full-time sworn officers in general-purpose law enforcement agencies increased by about 52,000 (up 8%). During the same period, the total U.S. population increased by about 56 million (up 21%).

As a result, the number of full-time sworn officers per 1,000 residents decreased, from 2.42 in 1997 to 2.17 in 2016 (down 11%).

The 2016 rate of full-time sworn officers per 1,000 residents was also lower than the rates in 2000 (down 7%), 2003 (down 8%), and 2007 (down 7%).

Findings are based on the Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) surveys from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

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As of June 30, 2016, the 15,328 general-purpose law enforcement agencies in the United States employed an estimated 701,000 full-time sworn officers. General-purpose law enforcement agencies include municipal, county, and regional police departments; most sheriffs’ offices, and primary state and highway patrol agencies.

They are distinct from special-purpose agencies (e.g., those with jurisdiction on tribal lands; and in parks, schools, airports, subways, hospitals, housing authorities, and government buildings), sheriffs’ offices with only jail and court duties, and federal law enforcement agencies. Only general-purpose agencies are included.

Bureau of Justice Statistics

Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. – Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Former Adjunct Associate Professor of criminology and public affairs-University of Maryland, University College. Former advisor to presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Former advisor to the “McGruff-Take a Bite Out of Crime” national media campaign. Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. You can contact me at [email protected]