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Police Force Jobs - How Many Do We Need?

Updated on June 9, 2012
Policewoman, by gggser on
Policewoman, by gggser on

Larger or Smaller Forces?

A new reader has requested information about the number of police officers the US will need in the year 2020. As the number of people in our population climbs year by year, we may need additional policemen and woman to patrol our streets and answer calls for assistance. Or, with possible budget cuts that some police forces have experienced since 2001, we may end up with fewer officers per 100,000 population than might be adequate.

Special duty officers are paid large wages for their work in acting as the official law enforcement presence at special events. Some large churches, for example, employ city police, local sheriff's deputies, and State Highway Patrol officers all at once to help control crowds at yearly gatherings called revivals or in the early 1900s lingo based on Bible stories - Camp Meeting. I can attest to the fact that without these Special Duty Officers, you'd never get out of the parking lot filled with 40,000 attendees. How Pastor Joel Osteen handles 80,000 quests in his former sports arena, I can imagine requires dozens of officers every week in Texas.

At the same time, certain businesses can no longer afford the services of Special Dutiy Police and step down to the lower wages of Security Officers. This is interesting, since for the year 2008, the job title Security Officer has risen into the Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs in America with an aggregate fatality and injury list larger than some other previous occupations, per 100,000 workers. Security officers are taking the place of police officers and in doing so more frequently are exposing themselves more often to danger and physical harm. Note than many security guards carry no firearms on patrol and still may be shot. Insurance costs for such jobs must be rising as well.

(By Happidog on
(By Happidog on

Current Employment Demand

Police fall into the Protective Services category of employment under the US Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics. They join Firefighters, Private Detectives and other Investigators, Corrections Officers, Surveillance/Gaming forces (as seen in TV's Las Vegas and CSI), and Security Guards in this jobs category. One field of study preparatory to any of these career paths is Criminology. Another field is Law and Paralegal Services. All of these are considered (protective) service occupations. Let's look at the current job demand for police officers and security guards in America.

Putting Out the Call

(By haloocyn on
(By haloocyn on

Demand for Police Increases

The US Federal Government labor divisions predict that the need for police officers and police detectives will increase by 10% during the course of the years 2008 - 2018, over the need that was experienced from 1998 - 2008. An update of this need in the going-forward will be available every two years, beginning approximately 2012.

In 2008, certain budget cuts around the country eliminated some entire new classes of police cadets. In Central Ohio, the need for another tax levy to support the local police temporarily, in addition to the Federal Stimulus Funds available in 2009, was required. because the levy passed a public vote and Stimulus Funds were available, police jobs were saved new cadets recruited, and a higher quality Crime Lab put into planning and implementation. Such a result did not benefit communities with lesser finding.

The number of needed police compared to the number of permitted police jobs that will be available in the USA in 2020 are likely to be significantly different numbers in some market area.

Demand for Police Officers Up 187%

Data provided by, a job search engine.
Data provided by, a job search engine.

Jobs Increased Again In 2011


Employment Outlook

Employment in career positions and job opportunities for local police will increase for people that meet the strict psychological, personal, and physical qualifications. Various in-depth background checks are required.Jobs will open to replace workers that retire, are promoted, or who transfer departments or agencies. Some police officers will become lawyers or begin their own private investigation agencies. Others will die on the job or leave for other career fields - some will join the US armed forces in Afghanistan, for example.

Urban communities may experience higher crime rates, while offering only lower police wages. Here, demand will be high and jobs will remain open. Few people may want to fill them. Bilingual police officers and police with military experience will be in demand. Police with college degrees or at least some college will be in demand.

Predicted Demand

The two major job search end trending engines on the Internet, and show approximately only 1,000 police officer jobs listed across the Internet for the entire nation in mid-April 2010. Some additional positions may be available only through local law enforcement agencies. At the same time, this represents an increase of 187% in job listings since August 2008.

A government-predicted increase in police jobs expected to 2018 is 57,500 additional police officer and sheriff's patrol jobs, beginning in 2008. This is an average of 5,750 jobs per year. Job listings for police officers posted on the Internet increased in 1.5 years 2008 to 2010 by 187% or from about 535 to 1,000 jobs. We have no idea how many of these were newly created and how many were replacement jobs for retirees/other reasons. It is not likely that job listings are meeting the government prediction, however.

We do not know how many police officers will be needed in 2020.

Security Guards - Jobs Increased 60%

Data provided by, a job search engine.
Data provided by, a job search engine.

Jobs Increased Again Slightly In 2012


Higher Demand for Security Guards

In mid-April 2009, 3,000+ job listings for Security Guards were found across the Internet for America. This is three times the number of police officers positions posted online.

A 10% increase in Security Guards since 2008, on to 2018 is expected to account for 152,500 new jobs. The numbers of police officers and security guards (who have more deaths/injuries than the police) are likely neither meeting the demand predicted for either one by the US government.

How Many Will We Need in 2020?

  • In May 2008, the number of employed police and sheriff's patrol officers (equivalent), a single category, was 633,710 men and women. The US needs to hire 0ver 5,000 new officers yearly across the country to meet the federal predictions by 2018.
  • In May 2008, the number of Security Guards was 1,046,760 men and women. We need to hired 15,250 new (more) guards every year through to meet predictions by 2018.

The best estimate is that the US may not meet the need already predicted for 2018 for either type of job - police or security guard - and will need even more such workers in the two years up to 2020. That would make roughly 67,000 police total and 185,000 guards from 2010 to 2020 if the government sources are correct. we will know more in 2012.

The Lighter Side of Security Guards

Top 10 Security Guard Positions in Demand in the US

  1. Security Guard - patrol officers, private and public companies.
  2. Delivery Driver - court documents
  3. Security Officers - various
  4. Warehouse Security
  5. Lead Security Guards
  6. Supervisory Security Guards
  7. Public Safety Officers
  8. Part-time Security Officers
  9. Armed Security Guards
  10. Unarmed Traditional Security Officers


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