Best Cities for Police Officers

Best Cities for Police Officers

There may be no harder job than that of the police officer. But life in the job does vary, depending on where the officer lives and works. At ValuePenguin, we classify the best city as one that scores well in four metrics that all police officers care about: median salary, cost of living, location quotient and crime rate. More on our methodology below.

Best Five Cities for Police Officers

Of the 351 cities reporting data, these five earned our best score, comprising the factors of median salary, cost of living and location quotient. Speaking of salary, the 638,810 police -- and sheriff's patrol officers -- employed in the U.S. in May 2014 earned $59,560 on average, or an hourly wage of $28.64, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

1. Trenton, N.J.

With a relatively low violent crime rate within and beyond its city limits -- and the ninth-highest annual average salary ($87,900) in our study -- Trenton takes the top spot on our list. The Western New Jersey city's police director, Ernest Parrey, installed a program called "Trenton My Block," which allows residents to anonymously report problems in their neighborhood. In addition, to the "new," Trenton celebrates the "old" with its museum.

*Statistical region includes Ewing, N.J.

2. New York, N.Y.

Unsurprisingly, New York City has the highest amount of officer positions (36,680, or 12,000 more than the next city on this list) and is the third-most expensive city in which to live (68 % higher than average). Known as "New York's Finest," members of the NYPD now report to commissioner William J. Bratton. They also have the largest reach on Twitter, with 162,000-plus following @NYPDnews.

*Statistical region includes White Plains, N.Y., and Wayne, N.J.

3. Miami, Fla.

With the 22nd -highest location quotient, a metric we take to mean there is a high demand for policemen and women, Miami is in the middle of our top five. Led by relatively new chief Rodolfo Llanes, the Miami Police Department has been very open with data, releasing an annual report to inform its constituents. Among the specific requirements Miami has for its officers: having at least 20/50 vision in each eye.

*Statistical region includes Miami Beach, Fla., and Kendall, Fla.

4. Los Angeles, Calif.

Los Angeles has the second-most police officer positions (24,610) and the 11th-highest annual average salary ($87,070). With chief Charlie Beck at the helm, LAPD has gone with the motto "To Protect and To Serve" since 1955. Like other larger departments in the country, Beck's staff covers its official business on its own blog.

*Statistical region includes Long Beach, Calif., and Glendale, Calif.

5. Atlantic City, N.J.

Atlantic City overcame a smaller population of police officer positions (940, or about 550 fewer than our study's average), plus the nation's eighth-highest crime rate, to round out our top five. Chief Henry White's department boasts about their K-9 training programs; it has trained law enforcement agencies in the Eastern U.S. and in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Like the previous three cities on this list, Atlantic City serves local residents, yes, but also a significant amount of tourists on a daily basis.

*Statistical region includes Hammonton, N.J.

Top 30 Cities for Police Officers


CityAverage SalaryJobsLocation QuotientCost of LivingViolent Crime Per 100KScore


Trenton, NJ$87,9003,5103.311062521


New York, NY$75,32036,6801.4416862449


Miami, FL$73,0407,3601.491121,06053


Los Angeles, CA$87,07024,6101.2814442653


Atlantic City, NJ$79,9709401.511101,73560


Visalia, CA$69,3501,0401.6010339166


Chicago, IL$73,41021,8401.231111774


Brockton, MA$72,5006301.461351,23086


Champaign, IL$73,5006301.379578888


Ocean City, NJ$70,0403201.741661,17195


Philadelphia, PA$64,18011,6601.32101628114


Newark, NJ$86,2904,8801.07125280122


Redding, CA$90,6403201.16111643128


Hanford, CA$72,3802301.3096549133


Fort Lauderdale, FL$71,3404,0801.1497845134


Poughkeepsie, NY$67,0001,4301.23119929135


Oxnard, CA$85,0801,5001.07150321136


Worcester, MA$59,9101,8101.53115954136


Washington, DC$65,52013,7501.221571,219136


San Francisco, CA$101,0405,2901.03200847141


Yuba City, CA$75,7002101.20107267144


Oakland, CA$99,2004,9701.021441,977149


Dover, DE$66,4903501.22107144152


Prescott, AZ$57,8004601.73108455163


Vallejo, CA$81,8806101.07111861165


Stockton, CA$79,4101,0201.041031,208175


Laredo, TX$56,2206501.4785415176


Santa Cruz, CA$86,5804401.05154651177


Edison, NJ$94,3504,5000.951348,231178


Detroit, MI$60,5704,0501.20842,072178

What’s It Like Policing in… ?

252. Morgantown, W.V.

Bryon Hennessey | Sergeant, Morgantown Police Department

"Morgantownis home to West Virginia University ranked as one of the top party schools in the nation. A department of 67 officers trying to serve a community that more than doubles in size during the school year as well as working football games where more than 80,000 people pour into to town for the event has its challenges.

"I have several contacts in other cities. They have circumstances that are much better and some that are much worse. I imagine working in a city where you don't know all of the officers on your department or you have never actually met your chief would be difficult."

Oceanside, Calif.

Rebecca L. Mahan | Formerly Deputy Sherrif, Sutter County Sherrif's Department and Police Office, MiraCosta College

"What was unique with my last agency was having been the only female officer... The area one works in varies in pay, duties, opportunities for training, specialty assignments, hours worked and days off."


These were the four key questions we asked in coming up with the list.

1. What can police officers earn in the city?

We ranked the best cities for police officers based on the median annual pay. Income is likely the most important factor people consider when starting their career or relocating elsewhere. A high salary in an expensive city, however, may be less attractive than a lower salary in an affordable town. Our next metric takes affordability into consideration.

2. How affordable is it to live in this city?

Now that we have the median salary, we’ll look next at the cost of living. The cost of living is a measure of how far earnings can be stretched. Cities with lower cost of living index numbers ranked higher in our study. For example, the average city is benchmarked at 100. A city with a cost of living index of 188, such as Honolulu, would mean that generally speaking, living expenses are 88 percent more expensive compared to the average city.

3. What is the location quotient for police officers in the city?

A place with a high median salary and low cost of living may seem perfect, but job opportunities may be limited. Our third factor accounts for this by favoring cities with high location quotients. Location quotient measures the concentration of police officers in an area as a percentage of all occupations, and then compares that to the national average. We interpret a higher location quotient to mean a relatively higher demand for a police officer’s services.

4. What is the violent crime rate in the city?

A place with a lower rate is more favorable for an officer's well being, so we rewarded cities with lower rates per 100,000 people in their populations.

Ting is a ValuePenguin Co-Founder. She previously evaluated corporate mergers and acquisitions as a Financial Analyst at Citigroup.