California second best state to be a police officer

The best and worst states in 2022 to be a police officer

With President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address calling on the nation to “defund the police” with better training and resources, personal finance website WalletHub today released its report on the best and the worst states in 2022 to be a police officer.

To determine the best states to pursue a career in law enforcement or to be a police officer, WalletHub compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia across 30 key police-friendliness indicators. The dataset ranges from median income of law enforcement officers to police deaths per 1,000 officers to national and local police protection spending per capita.

Here is a snapshot of the life and work of a police officer in California (1=best; 25=average):

  • 13th – Median income of law enforcement officers (adjusted for cost of living)
  • 20th – % of homicide cases solved
  • 3rd – National and local police protection expenditure per capita
  • 11th – Police deaths per 1,000 officers
  • 27 – Road safety

Note: “Law Enforcement Officers” include police and sheriff patrollers, detectives and criminal investigators.
Expert commentary on law enforcement

What is the long-term outlook for the law enforcement field?

“As an optimist, I tend to think that it always gets darker before dawn. I think the field and the profession will continue to evolve as our society evolves. law enforcement are learning organizations, but at times and in many communities/jurisdictions they can be lagging organizations.It will take a sustained and concerted effort from community residents, coupled with law enforcement professionals. law enforcement and policy makers, to co-create the policies and practices needed to improve the field and improve the well-being of the community.
— Brian N. Williams, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, University of Virginia

“The field will face many challenges in the years to come. Many police departments already struggle to recruit, train and retain qualified candidates. Many qualified people opt for other employment opportunities in the public or private sectors which are less stressful and often more lucrative. The policing profession as a whole has come under intense scrutiny in recent years, which means agencies need recruits with a wider range of talents, skills and qualifications. In other words, recruitment standards have risen at a time when it is more difficult to recruit qualified people.
— William H. Sousa, Ph.D. – Professor and Director, Center for Crime and Justice Policy and NVSAC – University of Nevada, Las Vegas

What steps should the police take to improve community relations, especially in minority communities?

“Fundamentally, it must be understood that it will take more than a few ministerial initiatives and hyped social media campaigns to improve the strained relationship between the police and minority communities. However, that does not mean that nothing should be done. Law enforcement officers need to do a better job of integrating with the communities they police, which will increase legitimacy and decrease the perception of an adversarial relationship between the two sides. Additionally, there must be a willingness to admit the historical and contemporary wrongs of law enforcement. In addition to acknowledging that police have enforced immoral laws throughout American history, contemporary police voices should be most prominent in speaking out against the behavior of officers who engage in misconduct. The reluctance to report police misconduct only confirms the most negative perceptions of the profession.
— Chidike I. Okeem, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Western New England University

“First, rather than just studying what police do wrong in communities of color and/or poor communities, we also need to study what they do right in middle and upper class communities. For example, why are there fewer complaints about excessive police use of force in upper-class communities? If we find out what works in some communities, we may be able to apply those lessons in other communities. Then we need to hire people who understand the history and realities of policing, and how that history has affected public perceptions of policing…I don’t just mean hire more women, people of color, and people who identify as LGBTQ+. I also mean that we have to hire people who see the police as a public service and who are aware of what they represent in communities of color.
— Tracy L. Tamborra, Ph.D. – Professor, University of New Haven

What strategies have proven effective in diversifying the police force so that it is more representative of the community?

“If a police service wants to hire a diverse set of officers, it needs to make that a priority. This involves conducting an internal audit of an agency’s demographics and looking at who gets hired, who gets promoted, and who runs an agency. Departments should actively promote their goals with diversity initiatives. An agency should publicize its successes in this area and publicize its long-term diversity goals. Hiring practices should focus on “screening” not eliminating candidates…Police services can also benefit from hiring officers who speak multiple languages ​​and have unique cultural backgrounds.
— Zachary A. Powell, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, California State University, San Bernardino

“The truth is that no department has identified an effective and consistent strategy to achieve sustainable diversity within its ranks, but many are trying hard. Some departments are expanding their reach through social media efforts; others push for incentives such as educational opportunities or bonuses to attract potential recruits; and others are still reviewing hiring policies that disproportionately exclude minority applicants, such as rules that make people ineligible for employment because of previous marijuana use. Many of these initiatives are recent, so we still don’t know how effective they will be, but the fact that so many departments are paying real attention to this issue is significant.
— Jorge X. Camacho – Clinical Lecturer and Policy Director of the Justice Collaboratory, Yale Law School

For the full report, please click here.

Image Sources

  • Peace Officers: Shutterstock

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