These are challenging times to be a police officer. Not only is it one of the most dangerous jobs, but due to increased public criticism and scrutiny of police brutality incidents, there is a negative attitude growing against the police in the media.
Therefore, to recruit and retain officers, departments must offer attractive and competitive wages and benefits. A study by WalletHub aimed to find out which departments rank the highest in these categories, and to determine which states offer the best opportunities for law enforcement.
The study compares 30 key indicators of “police friendliness” across 50 states, such as median income, police deaths per 1,000 officers, and state and local police protection expenses. The three broad metrics were broken down into opportunity and competition, job hazards and protections, and law enforcement training requirements.
These categories were further broken down into a total of 30 metrics, each with their own weight, with the total composite score adding up to100 points, with 100 representing the most “favorable” conditions for police officers. Each of the three category represents a share of 33.33 points.
For example, the “opportunity and competition” category is broken down into smaller metrics such as officers per capita (7.41 points), average starting salary (7.41 points), median income (3.70 points), etc. The “training requirements” are broken down into categories such as hours of training required, education requirements, and more, with a similar breakdown of metrics for job hazards and protections.
As a note, the methodology of the study relies on weighting that is clearly subjective and depends on personal preference. For example, for some reason the metric of “de-escalation training” was given a “double weight” of 8.89 points, double that of the metric for states that allow police work before basic training (4.44 points).
Adding up all of this data, the study found that the top 5 states for police officers are California, Connecticut, Maryland, District of Columbia, and Ohio.
The “worst” states to be a police officer (with the lowest composite score) were Hawaii, Nevada, Kentucky, Louisiana and West Virginia.
Details of the study can be read here.