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Police1 readers respond to WalletHub’s survey on the best and worst states to be a cop

Readers debate the importance of factors beyond compensation, such as the impact of community support and state legislation on job satisfaction for police officers

By Police1 Staff

Following the publication of WalletHub’s annual survey on the best and worst states to be a cop, Police1 shared the findings, sparking a robust discussion among readers.

As was the case with WalletHub’s 2022 survey, the top five locations in 2023 were California, the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Maryland and Illinois. On the other end of the scale, Arkansas was ranked the worst state to be a police officer, followed by Alaska, West Virginia, Kentucky and Nevada.

The survey evaluates states on various criteria, including risks, compensation and workplace environment quality. Here we share the perspectives of several Police1 readers. Plus: This accompanying analysis by Police1 columnist Chief Joel Shults offers a closer look at how officers classify what constitutes the best and worst states to be a cop.

Include the human element

I just finished the article on Police1 entitled “WalletHub survey ranks the best and worst states to be a cop.” I found the information interesting, but the results definitely went against my initial thoughts. The data gathered to form the results did not include the human element. For instance, many officers are leaving states like California and New York at alarming rates even though both states ranked high in the article. I think it would be fascinating to conduct a separate survey of officers working in each state to see their opinions and what impact it would have on the results. Just my thoughts. Thanks for the great reports and articles!

Illinois: A closer look needed

Need to re-evaluate Illinois’ ranking. I’m a retired cop from Illinois after 33 years. Notwithstanding how dangerous and screwed up the City of Chicago is, have you taken a look at the state laws that have either defunded the police, eliminated cash bail, stripped the police of necessary tools to do their jobs, made it easier to file complaints and/or de-certify police officers and otherwise made it impossible for officers to do their jobs?

Take a look at the Safe-T-Act and that should explain it all, but in case it doesn’t, just take a look at the proposed legislation for this year. Some of the pending legislation has already been recalled with the promise that it will be resubmitted at a later time. All of these things have spurred police officers to retire before they are eligible for their pensions (10-20 years on the job) with others quitting with only a few years on. Some departments get zero applicants for the job. No way that Illinois ranks #5!

Look at the states officers are leaving

You have Idaho ranked 27 and Washington State as 8. I don’t dispute your findings based on the criteria you used, but it does make me wonder why so many Washington police officers are coming to Idaho to work. I was formerly in law enforcement in Southern California and when I retired, immediately moved to Idaho. You couldn’t pay me enough to go back to California.

The job satisfaction metric

I’m not sure I’d be in agreement with the WalletHub ratings. I think we’re missing an important factor or two here. Things such as job satisfaction, support from the courts, support from the community and a sense of general appreciation. I’m in Massachusetts and the courts are a joke. Mentally I’ve completely checked out. The courts don’t care about us. The politicians in this state certainly don’t care about us. And the silent majority, I’d argue, don’t care enough to speak up, if in fact, they exist. Most don’t undertake this profession for money. It’s more than that — a sense of community, protection of those who can’t protect themselves and the satisfaction of removing criminals from the public. Long story short, they’re intangibles that I don’t think WalletHub can measure. Take 25% of my pay but really stand behind me and support me and I would be all in again.

Community support is key

I don’t know how this survey says California and Illinois are in the top five states to work in law enforcement. Those states are paid well, but Illinois is broke and probably won’t be able to sustain the state’s pension system, as it has failed in the recent past. Also, the government is making it harder and harder for the police to do their jobs in these two states. As for the District of Columbia, that is a violent city, not a safe place to want to work in my opinion.

If you want to try to influence people where to work, give them the states that have the highest percentage of prosecution and support from the community. In my 12 years of law enforcement, I’ve seen firsthand how that makes a place great to work. I personally know police officers fleeing Illinois to work in Missouri and other states because that whole state is falling apart and they are not supported.

Check out each state’s ratings in the WalletHub survey below. Do you agree with the findings? Email your opinions to

Source: WalletHub

For further insights from the report, visit WalletHub.

The focus on finance in a recent survey on the best and worst places to be a cop doesn’t reflect the more complicated matrix officers face when deciding on a department to join or stay with