The role of police is to maintain order and protect life. To achieve that, close to 1 million police officers in the United States enforce local, tribal, state, or federal laws and ordinances. Police are a phone call away in nearly every American community. One notable difference between the nation’s many police departments is the vastly different number of police officers employed by each city.
The population of a city goes a long way in determining the number of police employed there. New York City has by far the largest police force, with 36,228 officers and 15,171 civilian department employees. Chicago has the next largest police force with 11,954 officers and 1,181 civilian employees.
Many small cities like Anniston, Alabama or Tukwila, Washington, do not need the same number of officers as a city like New York or Chicago. However, relative to their populations, these cities and others still employ a very large or a very small police force.
24/7 Wall St. analyzed 2016 FBI data for U.S. cities with populations of 20,000 or more. The ranking is based on each city’s police per capita rate measured as the total number of law enforcement employees per 100,000 city residents.
The cities with the most relative number of law enforcement employees range from large cities like New York with about 600 law enforcement workers per 100,000 city residents (fourth most) to relatively small cities like Hammond, Louisiana with 515 law enforcement workers per 100,000 city residents (eighth most). For reference, there are 336 civilians and officers in law enforcement for every 100,000 people nationwide.