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Informer: Law enforcement censuses done every 4 years

Last Modified: Friday, September 20, 2013 12:59 PM

By Andrew Perzo / American Press

How many law enforcement agencies are there in the United States? I know you have the city police, the sheriff’s department, the Border Patrol and FBI. How many more are there?

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies for 2008 — the latest data available — counted nearly 18,000 state and local agencies.

The total, 17,985, broke down like so: 12,501 police departments; 3,063 sheriff’s offices; 50 primary state law enforcement agencies; 1,733 special-jurisdiction agencies; and 638 other agencies.

But the above tally doesn’t include every agency. The bureau sent census forms to 20,110 agencies, but it excluded those that met any of the following criteria:

Employed only part-time officers whose combined work time averaged less than 35 hours a week.

Were no longer operational.

Contracted with someone else for services.

Employed no officers with arrest powers.

Used no money from state, local or tribal governments or from special districts.

Were staffed exclusively by sworn officers who worked on a voluntary, unpaid basis.

“In September 2008, state and local law enforcement agencies employed more than 1.1 million persons on a full-time basis, including about 765,000 sworn personnel (defined as those with general arrest powers),” reads a report on the census results.

“Agencies also employed approximately 100,000 part-time employees, including 44,000 sworn officers.”

The BJS’ 2008 Census of Federal Law Enforcement Officers collected data from 73 federal agencies, but it too excluded some agencies — in this case, law enforcement groups in the armed forces, along with the CIA and the Federal Air Marshal Service.

“The largest number of federal officers in the United States (about 45,000, or 37%) performed criminal investigation and enforcement duties,” reads a census summary.

“The next largest job function category was police response and patrol with about 28,000 officers (23%). Approximately 18,000 officers (15%) performed immigration or customs inspections, and about 17,000 (14%) performed corrections or detention-related duties.

“Other federal officers primarily performed duties related to security and protection (5%) or court operations (5%).”

Both the state and local and federal law enforcement agency census counts are done every four years.


Vote on alcohol sales at arena unanimous

How did the Beauregard Parish Police Jury vote on alcohol sales at the arena?

The vote, taken last week, was unanimous, said Tayra DeHoven, Beauregard Parish Police Jury secretary-treasurer.

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The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098, press 5 and leave voice mail, or email

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