Despite Claims That Officers Are Leaving in Droves, Police Department Employment Remained Steady During the Pandemic

  • State and federal law enforcement increased their number of employees from 2019 to 2020.
  • The American Rescue Plan earmarked $350 billion to combat gun violence and hire more law enforcement personnel.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that law enforcement employment will grow by 5% over the next decade.

Police departments across the nation said they have struggled with staffing issues, from officers retiring and resigning to attracting new hires, but federal data paints a different picture, the Marshall Project reported.

US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from 2019 to 2020 shows the decrease in the number of people employed by local police departments and sheriff’s offices, 0.9%, was much lower compared to the decrease in overall employment, 6%.

By comparison, the number of people employed in education decreased by 8% in the same year.

At the state and federal level, law enforcement actually increased their number of employees, according to the Marshall Project

Recent initiatives provided police departments with additional financing, including the American Rescue Plan, which earmarked $350 billion to combat gun violence and hire more law enforcement personnel, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Due to increased financing, low turnover rates, and desire for public safety, the job outlook for law enforcement officers is promising. BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook projects that law enforcement employment will grow by 5% over the next decade, which is faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.

In 2019, 5,333 fatal work injuries were recorded in the US, and 1 out of every 5 of those deaths were drivers, sales workers, or truck drivers, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary. Meanwhile, fatal occupational injuries among law enforcement workers fell 24 percent between 2018 and 2019, BLS data shows.

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