Law enforcement, along with prosecution and defense lawyers, the courts, and prisons, is a component of the criminal justice system. In the United States, law enforcement operates through law enforcement agencies, which include local police, sheriff departments, state police, and federal agencies. Police are responsible for apprehending criminals, investigating suspected criminal activities, the temporary detention of suspects, presenting suspects to the courts, and ensuring order in communities. Major US cities have large police enforcement and investigation agencies that employ thousands of officers and personnel. The New York Police Department is the largest law enforcement agency in the United States. The largest police departments or agencies in the US are highlighted below.
The Largest Police Departments by Number of Sworn Officers
New York City Police Department (NYPD)
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) was formed in 1845 and has evolved into one of the most well-known law enforcement agencies in the world. It is the largest police department in the US, with approximately 36,023 permanent officers. In fact, the NYPD has almost three times as many sworn officers as the country's next largest police department. The department consists of 10 bureaus, 6 of which are strictly devoted to enforcement.
Chicago Police Department (CPD)
Formed in 1837, the Chicago Police Department is one of the oldest local law enforcement agencies in the United States. Commonly known as the Chicago P.D., the force was officially established in 1855, and currently consists of 13,354 sworn officers and about 2,000 additional administrative employees, making it the second largest local police department in the country.
Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)
With 9,727 sworn officers and nearly 3,000 administrative and executive staff, the City of Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is the third-largest local law enforcement agency in the US. The department serves a large geographical jurisdiction, which includes an area of approximately 500 sq mi and a population of nearly 4 million residents. The LAPD has also featured in a number of motion pictures and television programs, adding to its popularity.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is the largest sheriff's department in the US, and the fourth-largest law enforcement agency. It employs 9,461 permanent sworn officers, plus nearly 8,000 professional staff. Additionally, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is responsible for the largest jail system in the world.
California Highway Patrol (CHP)
The California Highway Patrol (CPD) is the fifth largest police department and the largest state law enforcement agency in the country. It includes 7,202 permanent sworn officers, and is its jurisdiction is focused on state highways, as well as assisting with state buildings or facilities.
Philadelphia Police Department (PPD)
Formed in 1828, the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) is the oldest municipal police department in the United States. Sometimes referred to as Philly PD, the local law enforcement agency has 6,624 sworn officers and employs an average of 600 new officers each year. The department boasts a ratio of 430 officers per 100,000 residents.
State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies
There are a total of 17,985 local and state law enforcement agencies in the United States that employ at least one permanent sworn officer. Each state has its own law enforcement agency with statewide responsibilities and powers. Of the roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies, 12,501 are local police departments. Additionally, there are 1,733 special jurisdiction officers, 3,063 sheriffs offices, and 638 other types of agencies. Local police departments are the largest employers of full-time officers.
List of the 10 Largest Police Departments in the US
|Rank||Police Agency||Number of Officers|
|1||New York Police Department||36,023|
|2||Chicago Police Department||13,352|
|3||Los Angeles Police Department||9,727|
|4||Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department||9,461|
|5||California Highway Patrol||7,202|
|6||Philadelphia Police Department||6,624|
|7||Cook County Sheriff's Office||5,655|
|8||Houston Police Department||5,053|
|9||New York State Police||4,487|
|10||Pennsylvania State Police||4,458|
About the Author
John Misachi is a seasoned writer with 5+ years of experience. His favorite topics include finance, history, geography, agriculture, legal, and sports.
Your MLA Citation
Your APA Citation
Your Chicago Citation
Your Harvard CitationRemember to italicize the title of this article in your Harvard citation.