U.S. State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies Census 2008: A BJS Report

"U.S. State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies Census 2008" by Bureau of Justice Statistics. Alaska Justice Forum 28(2–3): 8–9 (Summer 2011-Fall 2011). Over 1.1 millions persons were employed full-time by state and local law enforcement in the U.S. in 2008, according to the most recent census of state and local law enforcement agencies from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Of that number, 765,000 were sworn personnel—defined as those with general arrest powers. In 2008, Alaska had 1,298 sworn personnel in 50 state and local law enforcement agencies, including 274 sworn officers of the Alaska State Troopers.

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The most recent report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics quadrennial “Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, 2008” shows that there were over 1.1 million persons employed on a full-time basis by state and local law enforcement in this country in 2008. Of that number, about 765,000 were sworn personnel—which is defined as those with general arrest powers.

The report contains data from 17,985 state and local law enforcement agencies with at least one full-time officer or the equivalent in part-time officers, including:

  • 12,501 local police departments
  • 3,063 sheriffs’ offices
  • 50 primary state law enforcement agencies
  • 1,733 special jurisdiction agencies
  • 683 other agencies, primarily county constable offices in Texas.

There was a slight increase in the number of full-time sworn personnel from 2004 to 2008, with local police departments adding the most officers. Local police departments accounted for 60 percent of the total number of sworn personnel in law enforcement. In 2008 the number of full-time sworn personnel per 100,000 persons in the U.S. was 251: about 1 sworn officer per 400 U.S. residents.

According to the 2008 census, Alaska had 50 state and local law enforcement agencies, with 1,298 sworn personnel—ranking 47th in total number of agencies. There were 42 local police departments with 793 sworn personnel—ranking 45th in total number of local law enforcement agencies. The Alaska State Troopers, the primary state law enforcement agency, had 274 sworn personnel. BJS reports that in Alaska, there were 189 sworn personnel from state and local enforcement agencies, 115 sworn personnel from local law enforcement, and 40 Alaska State Troopers per 100,000 state residents. (See Table 1.)

Special jurisdiction agencies included 503 four-year education campuses with about 11,000 full-time sworn officers, and 253 two-year education campuses with more than 2,600 sworn officers. Other types of special jurisdictions are public buildings/facilities (e.g., education and medical campuses), natural resources, transportation systems/facilities, criminal investigations, and special enforcement (alcohol/tobacco, narcotics, gaming, racing, and agricultural).