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Hiring and Retention of State and Local Law Enforcement Officers, 2008-Statistical Tables

NCJ Number
Brian S. Reaves, Ph.D.
Date Published
October 2012
26 pages
This report presents 2008 statistics on the number, hiring, and retention of State and local law enforcement officers in approximately 16,000 agencies, including local police departments, sheriffs' offices, and the 50 primary State agencies.

Presents the results of a special survey administered to a nationally representative sample of agencies that participated in the 2008 Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies. Approximately 3,000 general purpose agencies were sampled, including all agencies employing 100 or more full-time sworn officers and a systematic random sample of smaller agencies. Data are presented on the number and demographic characteristics of officers hired by or separated from state and local law enforcement agencies in 2008 and the number lost to military reserve call-ups. Other topics include agency hiring restrictions related to applicants' personal history, targeted minority recruitment efforts, methods used to reach potential recruits, incentives offered, strategies used to retain officers, and agency policies on overtime and outside employment. Tables in the report present summary statistics by agency size and type (local police department, sheriff's office, or state law enforcement agency).

  • From 1992 to 2008, the number of sworn personnel employed by general purpose agencies increased by 141,000, or 25%. In 2008, the agencies hired about 61,000 officers, but lost about 51,000 through resignations (54%), non-medical retirements (23%), dismissals (10%), probationary rejections (5%), and medical or disability retirements (5%).
  • In 2008, 19% of agencies employed about 7,500 full-time sworn personnel who were called to active military duty. These call-ups represented a decrease from 2003 when 23% of agencies had 11,400 officers called up.
  • More than a third (36%) of agencies targeted applicants who possessed prior law enforcement experience for sworn positions, including about half of agencies employing 100 or more officers. Smaller percentages of agencies targeted applicants who were military veterans (17%), multilingual (16%), or 4-year college graduates (14%).