The are more than 850,000 people working in law enforcement in the United States, including over 650,000 police officers. Police force jobs involve much more than simply arresting suspected criminals. The United States Department of Labor reports that the range of daily activities for any particular officer or law enforcement employee varies according to her specific job or speciality in the police force--and the same goes for the salaries.
General Uniformed Officer
The bulk of police are general law enforcement officers in uniform who are part of regular city car patrols for a specific area. They must have a variety of physical and mental skills, including handling guns, subduing suspects, directing traffic or giving first aid. Thus, they can assist citizensin situations that may cause violence or disrupt and endanger the community. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median annual wage for general police officers and sheriff's patrol officers is about £33,150.
Telecommunicators, also called dispatchers, are responsible for receiving and transmitting important messages to all police units, including emergency calls for service or backup. They also help monitor the current location and status of all police units. According to the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) operating standards, police dispatchers form an essential link between police and dispatchers at 911 Emergency Dispatch public safety answer points (PSAP).
Salaries can vary. The Illinois city of Oak Forest advertised a job ad for an emergency telecommunicator with a starting annual salary of about £27,300 in 2010. Meanwhile, Ventura County in California state that its dispatchers earn about £3,705 per month on the average.
Plainclothes investigators or detectives are officers purposely not in uniform, so they can more easily move around civilians to gather facts and evidence for criminal cases. Their work involves conducting interviews, studying records, surveillance and making raids or arrests. The U.S. Department of Labor states that the median annual wages of detectives and criminal investigators are nearly £39,650.
Supervisors and Managers
The U.S. Department of Labor states that supervisors and managers in the police force are those in ranked positions, such as corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, deputy chief and police chief. They make major decisions on how to deal with major law and order issues and how the force is utilised.
Minimum annual salaries for corporals, sergeants and lieutenants fall in within the £31,850 to £42,250 range, while captains and deputy chiefs get a minimum £46,800 per year. Police chiefs get paid the highest, with an annual salary range of £58,500 to nearly £74,100.
Special Unit Officers
There are specialised unit forces for particular situations or terrain, requiring highly-specialised personnel. Examples include the canine corps, bomb squads, special weapons and tactics (SWAT), harbour patrols, highway motorcycle patrols and horseback units.
Salaries vary according to unit. For instance, DegreeDirectory.org cites that SWAT members can get anywhere from £30,550 to about £33,800 annually. The Washington Post also mentions that a bomb squad K-9 officer typically receives £29,250 a year.
- United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Police & Detectives
- United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics: First-Line Supervisors / Managers of Police & Detectives
- United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers
- United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Forensic Scientists -- A Career in the Crime Lab
- DegreeDirectory.org: What Is the Salary of a SWAT Team Member?
- The Washington Post -- Kid's Post: I Want to Be a Bomb Squad K-9 Officer
- National Emergency Number Association (NENA): Operations Standards
- NENA: Public Safety Dispatcher
- City of Oak Forest (Illinois) Civil Service Commission: Emergency Telecommunicator