A police officer patrolling any city in America earned, on average, between $ 34,000 and $ 96,000 last year.
But the large pay gap is more likely to relate to the cost of living in a given location rather than the safety of that location.
USA Today Network examined the US Bureau of Labor Statistics patrol officer salary data and compared it to US News & World Report rankings on state affordability and public safety.
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The states that pay the most for police are all among the most expensive places in the country, while those with the lowest average wages are more affordable, according to the ranking. But almost all of the highest-paid and lowest-paid states are in the bottom half of the public safety rankings.
There were nearly 658,000 police and sheriff patrol officers across the country, according to federal data from May 2016. They earn an average of about $ 30 an hour, or just under $ 63,000 a year.
But it varies considerably, even for neighboring states. For example, agents in California and New Jersey earn at least $ 24,000 and $ 16,500 more, respectively, than their neighboring states.
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Here’s a look at the average salary for the top and bottom five states and the number of officers working in each. Data for all states is listed on an interactive map in the story.
Note: Data focuses only on police officers and sheriff’s assistants who the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines as “patrol officers.” It does not include all law enforcement officers, such as police detectives or supervisors, correctional officers, bailiffs, game wardens, or parking enforcement officers.
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- Average salary: $ 96,660
- Number of police officers: 70,790
California is one of the least affordable states, ranking 49th in the US News & World rankings. During this time, he comes 33rd in the safety ranking.
2. New Jersey
- Average salary: $ 87,490
- Number of police officers: 21,390
New Jersey is the only top 5 state that also tops the public safety rankings. It comes in 40th position in terms of affordability.
- Average salary: $ 79,510
- Number of police officers: 1,110
Alaska was ranked 46th for affordability and 49th for public safety.
- Average salary: $ 76,340
- Number of police officers: 9,210
Washington was ranked 41st for affordability and 37th for public safety.
- Average salary: $ 72,040
- Number of police officers: 4,560
Nevada ranks 36th in affordability and 47th in public safety.
46. West Virginia
- Average salary: $ 42,130
- Number of police officers: 3,720
West Virginia is the 10th most affordable state, according to the US News & World report ranking. He was 19th in the public safety ranking.
- Average salary: $ 40,770
- Number of police officers: 24,360
Georgia is the 14th most affordable state and the 35th for public safety.
- Average salary: $ 39,390
- Number of police officers: 10,510
Louisiana ranks 18th for affordability and 48th for public safety.
- Average salary: $ 38,020
- Number of police officers: 5,760
Arkansas is the 12th most affordable state, but comes in at the 45th for public safety.
- Average salary: $ 34,550
- Number of police officers: 7,450
Mississippi ranks 13th in affordability and 26th in public safety.
Susanne Cervenka: 732-643-4229; [email protected]