The job of a police officer is one of the most important occupational positions in our modern society. Keeping our property & persons safe in the event of catastrophe or crime is their main objective. The unfortunate side is that even though police are essential to our safety, our infrastructure doesn’t have enough police in place in many areas. Let’s look at the top 10 states with the least amount of police per capita and the most crimes per officers, equating to overworked police officers.

*These are metrics take from the 2014 FBI crime statistics, Census data, and analysis by the SafeWise team.

1. Michigan

Michigan topped the list due to its low count of police officers, but large metropolitan city, Detroit. There were 630,000 crimes in Michigan, but only 23,179 law enforcement employees. Meaning, there was an average of 28 crimes per officer. Metro areas mean larger populations, but without enough officers to patrol these areas, the current police force is left carrying many cases per officer.

2. Nevada

Nevada ranked 25th for the amount of property and violent crimes per year, 185,000. But like Michigan, Nevada had few officers compared to the amount of cases they had to complete. Each officer had on average 23.01 property and violent crimes to assess with the total Nevada police force reaching 9,000.

3. Idaho

While Idaho didn’t have much property or violent crime per capita, they had very few police to take care of the crime that did occur. Each officer had 19.3 cases assigned to him or her, on average.

4. Kentucky

Kentucky had much more property crime than violent crime. This could have contributed to the lack of police officers since there has been a correlation with violent crime and excess police officers. Kentucky officers had an average of 18.07 crimes assigned to one police officer.

5. Arkansas

Arkansas was higher on the list of total property and violent crime. There were 237,000 crimes making it 15th for most property and violent crimes per year. Each police officer dealt with 16.68 cases and was responsible 390 people’s safety.

6. South Dakota

This small state has the lowest population on the list and the least amount of police officers in their force. With only 2,913 law enforcement employees, there weren’t enough bodies to keep up with their cases. Every South Dakota police officer was responsible for 15.37 violent and property crimes.

7. Mississippi

Mississippi reported 193,00 property and violent crimes, with property crime being the majority of crimes committed. Mississippi saw 84.58 property crimes per capita, making it the worst state for this type of crime. Officers in Mississippi had 15.26 cases assigned to them.

8. Wyoming

Wyoming had the 4th lowest violent crime rate in the nation and a low population count. This backfires when it comes to overworked officers. Since the violent crime rate was low, fewer officers were staffed. Each police officer was in charge of 15.02 violent and property crimes.

9. North Carolina

North Carolina was also in the middle of the pack, like Nevada, for crime rates. It came in 26th for the most violent and property crimes per capita. Each North Carolina officer handled 14.16 crimes that year and was responsible for 354 people’s safety.

10. Indiana

Indiana had a total of 435,298 violent and property crimes with 12,000 law enforcement employees to handle the influx of crimes. Each officer alone had 13.76 violent and property crimes assigned to them. The bigger cities of Indianapolis and Gary could have contributed to the crime rate and sparse police officers.

Things to Keep in Mind When Reading

  • The more violent crime, the more police officers (66% correlation)
  • Property crime has less of an effect on how many police officers are staffed compared to violent crime
  • Poverty has a small, but positive correlation to crime rates (28.42% correlation)
  • Dense populations increase crime rate by 17.76%

You can read the full report here.