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In 2022, police officers earned the highest salaries in California. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers earned a median of $104,160, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Other leading states were Washington ($94,107), New Jersey ($88,100), Illinois ($86,130), and Hawaii ($86,080). Police officers earned more than the national average of $65,790 in 19 states and Washington, DC.

Even after accounting for differences in the cost of living across states, this trend holds true, with officers in California, Washington, and Illinois earning the highest salaries.

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Which states pay police officers the least?

In 2022, police officer salaries were the lowest in Mississippi, with an annual median of $37,240. Other states with lower salaries included Arkansas ($39,040), Louisiana ($44,620), South Carolina ($46,800), and West Virginia ($46,960).

Wages in these states are still comparatively low even when adjusting for the cost of living. After adjusting wages for these differences, police remain lowest paid in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Police in West Virginia had the seventh-lowest median wage.

What are the highest-paying cities for police officers?

In 2022, the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan area in California had the nation’s highest median police officer salaries at $132,930 per year. Even after accounting for the area’s above-average cost of living, San Jose metropolitan area officers make the most out of all metro areas for which data is available.

Sixteen of the top 20 metro areas for average police officer earnings were in California. The top metro areas in other states were:

  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington (10th place, $102,180).
  • Anchorage, Alaska (13th place, $101,090).
  • Bellingham, Washington (19th place, $93,440).
  • Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado (20th place, $93,160).

After adjusting for cost-of-living, police officers in 14 California metro areas remain the highest earners on average compared to their counterparts. The other metro areas in the top 20 include Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; Anchorage, Alaska; Fort Collins, Colorado; Atlantic City-Hammonton, New Jersey; Decatur, Illinois; and Laredo, Texas.

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What are the lowest-paying cities for police officers?

According to the BLS, Alexandria, Louisiana, was the lowest-paying metro area for police officers in 2022, with an average salary of $36,260. Other lowest-paying metro areas are Jackson, Mississippi ($36,460); Hattiesburg, Mississippi ($36,520); Valdosta, Georgia ($37,430); and Fort Smith, Arkansas ($37,630).

How does police officer pay compare to other public service-related professions?

In 2022, the median pay for police and sheriff’s patrol officers was about $3,400 higher than the median pay for high school teachers and more than $10,000 higher than for firefighters and postal workers, according to BLS data.

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What benefits can police officers receive beyond pay?

According to the BLS, many law enforcement agencies provide officers with extensive benefits. These include plans allowing earlier retirement compared to other professions. Standard benefits also include paid overtime and additional pay for specific qualifications, including higher education and speaking multiple languages. The Justice Department’s Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program also offers death and education benefits to the survivors of police officers killed in the line of duty.

Where does police funding come from?

Local police departments receive funding from tax revenues of municipal and state governments, as well as federal grant programs. In 2021, the most recent year of data available from the US Census Bureau, state and local governments spent $135 billion on police. Local governments were responsible for $117 billion, or nearly 87% of that spending.

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Last updated
May 2022
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