When it comes to how many police officers a community should have, is there a right number?
There are no federal or state—or even local—mandates for how many officers provide optimal protection and service. The International Association of Chiefs of Police in a recent patrol staffing and deployment study states plainly:
"Ready-made, universally applicable patrol staffing standards do not exist. Ratios, such as officers-per-thousand population, are totally inappropriate as a basis for staffing decisions."
Instead, the study says needs should be determined by a number of different factors, including:
- Number of calls for service
- Population size, density and composition
- Citizen demands for protective services
- Municipal resources
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Data is from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Crime in the United States report, which incorporates information reported to the FBI by law enforcement agencies. This report covers 2011.