How Many Cops Does Your Local Government Have Per Resident?

Does Washington, D.C., have more cops than other cities? That’s the question I asked myself the other day after watching a patrol car drive down our quiet, residential street. I see patrol cars everywhere — much more often than I did previous cities like Houston and Austin.

There’s a reason: Among the top 50 most-populous local governments, D.C. simply has more police officers per resident, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, which surveyed large police forces a few years ago. The city has about 670 cops per 100,000 residents, well ahead of Chicago, which was second with about 472 per 100,000. Houston had about 220, and Dallas had about 260.

Of course, D.C. is the capitol and diplomatic center of the country, and it’s densely populated with pockets of high crime and poverty. So a large officer to resident rate is understandable. But it’s a bit surprising how much D.C.’s ratio eclipses that of other major cities.

This chart shows the cities among the top 50 that have the highest per-resident officer ratio:

Here are the data for all 50 cities plotted on a map made with TileMill. Larger symbols represent higher numbers of officers per 100,000 residents:

See larger, interactive version

Data source: U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics

2 thoughts on “How Many Cops Does Your Local Government Have Per Resident?

  1. I’d be interested in seeing this plotted against crime rates… maybe homicide rates per 100k as the representative factor? Then we could see if there was some correlation between police density and crime rates; I’d be interested. I’ve been reading (for promotion) a lot of material on police management and was surprised to learn that in 1970 Kansas City conducted an experiment to see if more police patrol made any difference in crime rates, and they found it made none. They kept answering calls for service, but compared matched beats where they kept random patrol the same, increased it dramatically, and cut it to none. After a year there was no difference in crime rates, victimization, satisfaction with police or fear of crime. So if police presence doesn’t affect those factors, I wonder if number of cops per 100k population would. Food for thought.

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