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The 10 States with the Most Overworked Police Officers

Posted by: POLC Staff Posted date: November 3, 2016

Michigan Ranked #1 with the Most Overworked Police Officers

As stated in the following article, the men and women of the Michigan law enforcement community are the most overworked. The information obtained from a national study comprising of FBI statistics, census data and analysis shows that Michigan officers average 5 more crimes per officer than officers in second ranked Nevada.

Police officers have a serious job to do—keep society safe by enforcing our laws. However, most states only have one to three police officers per 1,000 civilians. That’s a lot of people for a few sets of eyes and ears! This got us thinking about which states have the least amount of police officers per capita, the most crimes per officer, and therefore, the busiest policemen and women.

Below, you’ll find the 10 busiest states for officers when it comes to handling a large load of both violent and property crimes. All findings are based off of 2014 FBI crime statistics, Census data, and analysis by the SafeWise team. While there are a lot factors that impact crime rates—police tactics, poverty levels, population density, demographics, etc.—this map is here to demonstrate the hefty workload American police officers have on their plates each year.

Factors That Affect Crime Rates

Crime is a very complex topic; it’s incredibly difficult to isolate one single cause, and even more difficult to identify how different factors contribute to the whole. While this data is only the tip of the iceberg—providing a glimpse into a bigger civic and social issue—we were able to uncover some notable findings during the study:

  • The higher the violent crime rate, the bigger the police force.States that have higher rates of violent crime also have more police officers. Washington D.C. is a great example of this since it has the biggest police force per capita, but also one of the highest violent crime rates per capita. The correlation between violent crime and large police forces is strong at 66 percent. So as violent crime increases, we can assume that law enforcement numbers do too.
  • Property crime doesn’t appear to affect police staffing as much as violent crime.The correlation between the number of officers compared to the total property crime is much smaller than the violent crime data—33 percent. However, this data does provide a glimpse into the strategy behind how police officers combat crime.
  • Poverty has a small, yet positive correlation with crime.According to our findings, poverty has a 28.42 percent correlation with crime. In states with large numbers of people living below the poverty line, property crimes were higher. We mentioned Mississippi has the lowest median household income per capita, and it also has one of the highest property crime rates as well.
  • Population density has an affect on crime levels.More people in one given place results in higher crime rates. Without the data, this is a likely hypothesis to form. With the data, we know that a denser population increases crime rates by 17.76 percent.
  • Policing tactics can impact crime and police force numbersPolicing tactics are a big part of the crime rate discussion, and one controversial topic right now is broken window policing. Broken window policing focuses on eliminating smaller incidents like property crime to ultimately lessen violent crimes and the amount of police officers needed in a given area. It’s the “nip-it-in-the-bud” method that seems to be working. In places like New York, broken window policing has helped cut down on property and violent crimes. So as police officers shift focus to different issues in society, we may very well see a change in the data we presented above.

The day in the life of a police officer sure isn’t easy. They have to manage dangerous situations, keep the peace, rescue people in distress, and help traffic flow smoothly. If you ever wondered what it takes to be in law enforcement, the statistics we just highlighted should paint a pretty clear picture.

1. Michigan

Michigans 23, 179 law enforcement employees are kept busy by heavily populated cities like Detroit. In 201 4, there were over 630,000 crimes in Michigan. That caused Michigan to top our list with an average of 28 total crimes per officer. While this may not seem like a big number, you have to think about the hours that go into testifying in court, filing paperwork, and resolving the incident itself. And since-state-wide-there are 350 civilians for every one police officer, that’s a lot of ground to cover for one person.


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