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Research shows which states experienced most growth, biggest declines in police forces

The study analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine which states experienced the highest and lowest growth rates between 2022 and 2023

By Joanna Putman
Police1

WASHINGTON — Recent research by High Rise Financial has revealed significant variations in the growth rates of police forces across the United States.

The study analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, focusing on job titles related to law enforcement, such as first-line supervisors of police, detectives and patrol officers, to determine which states experienced the highest and lowest growth rates between 2022 and 2023, according to a news release.

Top growing police forces:

  1. Nebraska saw the most significant increase, with a growth rate of 13.39%. The number of law enforcement officers rose from 4,330 in May 2022 to 4,910 in May 2023. This growth was influenced by legislation providing bonuses and salary increases to retain officers.
  2. West Virginia experienced a 10.99% increase, growing from 3,820 to 4,240 officers. This was partly due to a recent bill that raised salaries for state employees, including police officers.
  3. Montana had a 10.26% growth rate, with police force numbers rising from 2,730 to 3,010. The state’s growing population has contributed to a healthy job market for law enforcement.
  4. Connecticut saw a 10.17% increase, expanding from 9,240 to 10,180 officers. High salary potential, with an average annual wage of over $75,000, has attracted more individuals to the profession.
  5. Rhode Island recorded a 9.06% growth rate, increasing from 2,980 to 3,250 officers. Reforms to the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights have aimed to improve accountability and discipline within the force.

Top decreasing police forces:

  1. New York experienced the largest decrease, with a -23.07% growth rate. The number of officers dropped from 73,780 in 2022 to 55,760 in 2023.
  2. Delaware saw a 9.05% decline, with the police force shrinking from 2,430 to 2,210 officers.
  3. Idaho had a 5.93% reduction, decreasing from 4,550 to 4,280 officers.
  4. Maine experienced a 5.41% decline, with officer numbers falling from 3,140 to 2,970.
  5. Louisiana saw a 5.22% decrease, with the police force reducing from 17,630 to 16,710 officers.

The study indicates that economic incentives, legislative changes, and state population trends significantly impact police force growth rates. While some states have successfully increased their law enforcement numbers, others face challenges in maintaining their police workforce, according to the research report.

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