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Top 10 Largest Police Departments in the United States!

November 1st, 2019 largest police departments in the united states

Largest US Police Departments

There are three major branches of the criminal justice system in the United States. These include:

  • Courts – 80% of cases are civil, whereas 20% of cases are criminal.
  • Corrections – supervision, treatment, punishment of criminals.
  • Law enforcement – officers who uphold the law in society.

There are almost 18,000 agencies in the United States, all of which play a central role in investigating suspect activity, arresting suspects believed to have committed crime, and prosecuting those where the bar of evidence has been reached.

Of course, the duties of a law enforcement officer are not limited to this. As part of police training, officers are equipped with the skills necessary to:

  • Act as first responders to emergency situations.
  • Secure threats – active and potential – to public safety.
  • Protection of national infrastructure.
  • Protection of public officials.

Some police departments are local and well-organized, with a considerable level of community involvement – such as Corvallis Police Department in Oregon – whereas others, such as New York Police Department – are broader, deeper and have a greater degree of complexity to manage on a day-to-day basis.

There are different skills required of the police officer depending on the location in which they work, and the environment they will be exposed to.

That said, size doesn’t matter. But efficiency does. That’s where effective management and organizational structure comes in, how threats are handled on a long-term basis, and what strategies the department can implement, in conjunction with others, to provide a safe environment for all its citizens.

Below, we’ve tabulated the largest police departments in the United States – starting with NYPD and filtering down to Pennsylvania State Police, with 4,400 police officers on duty.

Largest Police Departments in United States

As of 2019, here are the largest law enforcement agencies in the United States.

Police Department Police Officers on Duty (approx.)
New York Police Department 36,000
Chicago Police Department 13,000
Los Angeles Police Department 9,700
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department 9,500
California Highway Patrol 7,200
Philadelphia Police Department 6,600
Cook County Sheriff’s Office 5,600
Houston Police Department 5,000
New York State Police 4,500
Pennsylvania State Police 4,400

Statistics Worth Knowing

Here are some other police department statistics to chew over.

Number About
18,000 The number of police agencies in the United States.
790,000 Total workforce working in US law enforcement.
39 Average age of a worker within that workforce.
6.98% Estimated job growth rate over the next decade.
$66,691 Average salary for a police officer.
$67,323 Average male salary for a police officer.
$59,671 Average female salary for a police officer.
86.2% Percentage of the workforce who are male.

Career Prospects

Even if you don’t intend to work in some of the largest police departments in the United States, there are enormous opportunities within the smaller to medium departments.

Many of these agencies have their own focus. For example, you may be interested in one aspect of policing – perhaps investigation – and wish to work your way into that part of the profession. It is worth enquiring with your local police department about its divisions and whether it would suit you best.

Whether you work in the biggest or smallest department, a career in law enforcement is an exciting, challenging and rewarding career choice that pays dividends in the long-term.

Check back to our blog soon for more great articles on US police departments. Taking your police officer exam soon? We’ve put together the complete police test guide to help you on your way.

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