At the top of the list – meaning the best state to be a police officer – is North Dakota, followed by Connecticut, New York, Illinois, and Minnesota. Louisiana was ranked as the worst state for police officers, behind Arkansas, Alaska, New Mexico and Kentucky.
The ranks were determined by analyzing three main career-related areas in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia: Opportunity and Competition; Job Hazards and Protections; and Quality of Life. Each of the areas included 20, more specific metrics. For the report, law enforcement included police officers and sheriff’s deputies, as well as detectives and criminal investigators.
In looking at financial incentives for law enforcement officers across the country, Illinois was determined to have the highest median income – all of which were adjusted for the cost of living – followed by New Jersey, Michigan, Delaware and Alaska. The state with the lowest median income was South Carolina, behind Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine and Georgia.
However, the best states with opportunity for income growth were Wisconsin, Hawaii, Montana, Indiana and North Dakota. The states with the least amount of opportunity for income growth were New Jersey, Florida, Alabama, Missouri and Delaware.
As far as competition for careers in law enforcement and individual workload, the report found that the District of Columbia had the highest number of law enforcement officers per capita, followed by New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and New York. Oregon was determined to be the state with the fewest number of officers per capita, behind Utah, Alaska, Iowa, and Kentucky.
In the case of violent crimes, Vermont was determined to have the lowest crime rate, followed by Maine, Virginia, New Hampshire and Idaho. However, the District of Columbia was found to have the highest rate of violent crime, only behind Alaska, Nevada, New Mexico and Tennessee.
Other factors that fell under the area of Job Hazards and Protections included body-worn camera legislation, use of lethal force, officer deaths, and the number of 911 calls.
Analysts also looked at the quality of life as it related to law enforcement, which included things like housing affordability, in addition to public sentiment toward police in each of the states and the District of Columbia and state and local protections for police.