Police officers in America have a tough job. In the face of danger, they must protect and serve the citizens of their communities—while respecting the rights of suspects and using force appropriately.

There were just over 800,000 police officers and detectives employed in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is just about one police officer per 397 people.

While employment for police officers is only expected to climb 4 percent over the next 10 years, some cities need more officers now.

SpareFoot wanted to see which cities have the most demand for police officers. To find out, we partnered with Indeed, the world’s largest job site by users, to identify the ten metro areas with the most job listings for police officers. Indeed also provided us with the average salary data for police officers in those markets.

We then ranked those metroes by the following factors:

  • Job availability
  • Average annual salary
  • Salary as a percentage of median home price
  • Median annual rent as a percentage of salary
  • Violent crime rate and property crime rate

Finally, we combined the rankings (giving double weight to job availability) to determine an overall ranking. Median home prices and annual rent sourced from Zillow. Crime rates were reported by the FBI.

The result is the top ten metroes with the most demand for police officers, ranked by desirability:

10. San Francisco

San Francisco had the highest share of job openings for police officers among the top ten cities, and the third highest average salary. Unfortunately, the cost of living presents a challenge for law enforcement officers looking to start a career here. It also has violent and property crime rates comparatively higher than many of the other cities on the list. Percent share of job listings (rounded): 21.4% (Rank 1st) Average annual salary: $58,000 (Rank 3rd) Median home price: $1.2 million Salary as a percentage of home price: 5% (Rank 10th) Median annual rent: $52,728 Rent as a percentage of income: 90.8% (Rank 10th) Violent crime rate (per 100,000 people): 795 (Rank 7th) Property crime rate (per 100,000 people): 5,303 (Rank 9th)

9. Washington, D.C.

 

The nation’s capital has significant demand for police officers, coming in third on the list.  However, D.C. is expensive housing wise for officers and the violent crime rate is the second highest on the list.

Percent share of job listings (rounded): 13.7% (Rank 3rd)
Average annual salary: $47,657 (Rank 6th)
Median home price: $550,000
Salary as a percentage of home price: 8.7% (Rank 7th)
Median annual rent: $30,768
Rent as a percentage of income: 64.6% (Rank 7th)
Violent crime rate (per 100,000 people): 1,185 (Rank 9th)
Property crime rate (per 100,000 people): 5,013 (Rank 8th)

8. Denver, CO

The Mile High City is not a bad choice for a law enforcement career, coming in sixth for both measures of housing affordability, and fifth for both crime rates. However, Denver has the lowest average salary on the list, at $41,000. Percent share of job listings (rounded): 5.3% (Rank 5th) Average annual salary: $41,000 (Rank 10th) Median home price: $445,000 Salary as a percentage of home price: 9.2% (Rank 6th) Median annual rent: $24,000 Rent as a percentage of income: 58.5% (Rank 6th) Violent crime rate (per 100,000 people): 599 (Rank 5th) Property crime rate (per 100,000 people): 3,359 (Rank 5th)

7. San Diego, CA

 

While San Diego might have the second most expensive cost of living on the list, it is also one of the safest. The city had the second lowest violent crime rate, and the lowest property crime rate on our list.

Percent share of job listings (rounded): 5.3% (Rank 9th)
Average annual salary: $43,000 (Rank 8th)
Median home price: $609,000
Salary as a percentage of home price: 7.1% (Rank 9th)
Median annual rent: $29,784
Rent as a percentage of income: 69.3% (Rank 9th)
Violent crime rate (per 100,000 people): 381 (Rank 2nd)
Property crime rate (per 100,000 people): 1,959 (Rank 1st)

6. Atlanta, GA

On the flip side is Atlanta, which offers the most affordable cost of living for police officers—but it is also has the highest rates of both violent and property crime on our list. Percent share of job listings (rounded): 7.2% (Rank 6th) Average annual salary: $54,000 (Rank 4th) Median home price: $272,900 Salary as a percentage of home price: 19.8% (Rank 1st) Median annual rent: $17,808 Rent as a percentage of income: 33% (Rank 1st) Violent crime rate (per 100,000 people): 1,227 (Rank 10th) Property crime rate (per 100,000 people): 5,747 (Rank 10th)

5. Riverside, CA

 

Riverside strikes a balance compared to the previous two cities, ranking about the same when it comes to affordability and crime rate. It has the fourth most affordable cost of living, the fourth lowest property crime rate, and the third lowest violent crime rate.  It does however have the ninth lowest average annual salary.

Percent share of job listings (rounded): 6.2% (Rank 7th)
Average annual salary: $41,000 (Rank 9th)
Median home price: $389,900
Salary as a percentage of home price: 10.5% (Rank 4th)
Median annual rent: $21,228
Rent as a percentage of income: 51.8% (Rank 4th)
Violent crime rate (per 100,000 people): 433 (Rank 3rd)
Property crime rate (per 100,000 people): 3,087 (Rank 4th)

4. Houston, TX

Houston earns high marks when it comes to affordability, coming in second place on both measures. However it comes in eighth place for violent crime and seventh place for violent crime. Percent share of job listings (rounded): 8.1% (Rank 5th) Average annual salary: $48,000 (Rank 5th) Median home price: $315,000 Salary as a percentage of home price: 15.2% (Rank 2nd) Median annual rent: $17,160 Rent as a percentage of income: 35.8% (Rank 2nd) Violent crime rate (per 100,000 people): 991 (Rank 8th) Property crime rate (per 100,000 people): 4,694 (Rank 7th)

2. Dallas, TX (tie)

 

Dallas tied for second place thanks to having the second most available jobs among the top ten cities, and being the third most affordable city on both measures.

Percent share of job listings (rounded): 14.5% (Rank 2nd)
Average annual salary: $44,000 (Rank 7th)
Median home price: $369,900
Salary as a percentage of home price: 11.9% (Rank 3rd)
Median annual rent: $16,356
Rent as a percentage of income: 37.2% (Rank 3rd)
Violent crime rate (per 100,000 people): 665 (Rank 6th)
Property crime rate (per 100,000 people): 3,589 (Rank 6th)

2. San Jose, CA (tie)

San Jose has the lowest violent crime rate on our list. But despite having the second highest average salary, it comes in eighth place for affordability. Percent share of job listings (rounded): 5.7% (Rank 8th) Average annual salary: $61,000 (Rank 2nd) Median home price: $795,000 Salary as a percentage of home price: 7.7% (Rank 8th) Median annual rent: $40,368 Rent as a percentage of income: 66.2% (Rank 8th) Violent crime rate (per 100,000 people): 321 (Rank 1st) Property crime rate (per 100,000 people): 2,434 (Rank 3rd)

1. Los Angeles, CA

 

Los Angeles coming in first place might be a surprise to some, but look at the numbers. The city has the highest average salary on our list, and the cost of living lands right in the middle. For a city of its size, it has low crime rates—especially when it comes to property crimes, the second lowest rate on our list.

Percent share of job listings (rounded): 12.6% (Rank 4th)
Average annual salary: $64,537 (Rank 1st)
Median home price: $699,000
Salary as a percentage of home price: 9.2% (Rank 5th)
Median annual rent: $33,936
Rent as a percentage of income: 52.6% (Rank 5th)
Violent crime rate (per 100,000 people): 491 (Rank 4th)
Property crime rate (per 100,000 people): 2,128 (Rank 2nd)

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Alexander Harris