The Best Places for Law Enforcement Officers

The strength of a community is often measured by the quality of its local law enforcement officers. However, a career as a law enforcement officer has long been considered one of the most stressful in the world. Officers deal with incredibly intense situations, shoulder huge personal responsibility, and face the potential for danger every day they go to work.

With such a high-stress job, perks like salary, affordable housing and local amenities can go a long way when it comes to deciding where to settle down. Things like low crime rates, safe roads and available jobs don’t hurt, either. As President Obama said to a gathering of police officers just last month:

“Your jobs are inherently dangerous. The reminders are too common. We cannot erase every darkness or danger from the duty that you’ve chosen. We can offer you the support you need to be safer. We can make the communities you care about and protect safer as well.”

With that in mind, we set out to find out which U.S. communities provide the best quality of life for law enforcement officers. We analyzed metro and micro areas with populations under 100,000 based on:

  • Average law enforcement officer salaries (including police and sheriff data)
  • Housing affordability (percent of income spent on rent or housing)
  • Area amenities (arts, entertainment and recreation)
  • Employment attractiveness (law enforcement officer job density and availability, including police and sheriff data)
  • Crime (number of violent crimes per capita)
  • Road safety (number of fatal accidents per capita)
  • Police-community relations (number of departments who have adopted a community policing mission statement per capita)

Read on to find out which areas made our list, click through our data, and read expert opinions on the role of law enforcement officers in communities today.

I. The Top 10 Places for Law Enforcement Officers

10. Ocean City, NJ

Average salary: $70,040
Housing affordability index: 22.22%
Area amenities: 1,477
Employment attractiveness rank: 39
Violent crime rank: 193
Road safety rank: 190

9. Malone, NY

Average salary: $61,600
Housing affordability index: 16.05%
Area amenities: 262
Employment attractiveness rank: 227
Violent crime rank: 189
Road safety rank: 188

8. Cortland, NY

Average salary: $63,850
Housing affordability index: 16.81%
Area amenities: 199
Employment attractiveness rank: 164
Violent crime rank: 220
Road safety rank: 48

7. Truckee-Grass Valley, CA

Average salary: $84,210
Housing affordability index: 18.86%
Area amenities: 459
Employment attractiveness rank: 17
Violent crime rank: 198
Road safety rank: 240

6. Kokomo, IN

Average salary: $48,990
Housing affordability index: 19.69%
Area amenities: 242
Employment attractiveness rank: 3
Violent crime rank: 446
Road safety rank: 375

5. Sonora, CA

Average salary: $82,830
Housing affordability index: 15.81%
Area amenities: 14
Employment attractiveness rank: 7
Violent crime rank: 132
Road safety rank: 240

4. Oneonta, NY

Average salary: $63,850
Housing affordability index: 17.27%
Area amenities: 601
Employment attractiveness rank: 164
Violent crime rank: 216
Road safety rank: 30

3. Susanville, CA

Average salary: $84,210
Housing affordability index: 14.93%
Area amenities: 9
Employment attractiveness rank: 17
Violent crime rank: 132
Road safety rank: 240

2. Sandusky, OH

Average salary: $47,620
Housing affordability index: 22.96%
Area amenities: 723
Employment attractiveness rank: 1
Violent crime rank: 310
Road safety rank: 264

1. Corvallis, OR

Average salary: $67,990
Housing affordability index: 18.72%
Area amenities: 762
Employment attractiveness rank: 5
Violent crime rank: 264
Road safety rank: 9

salary

Best Salary

1. Susanville, CA
2. Truckee-Grass Valley, CA
3. Sonora, CA
4. Ukiah, CA
5. Clearlake, CA

housing

Most Affordable Housing

1. Oil City, PA
2. Bradford, PA
3. Susanville, CA
4. Warren, PA
5. Gallup, NM

crime

Lowest Crime

1. Summerville, GA
2. Big Stone Gap, VA
3. Middlesborough, KY
4. Bardstown, KY
5. Burley, ID

jobs

Best Jobs

1. Sandusky, OH
2. Lewiston, ID-WA
3. Kokomo, IN
4. Victoria, TX
5. Corvallis, OR

amenities

Best Amenities

1. Jackson, WY-ID
2. Key West, FL
3. Taos, NM
4. Edwards, CO
5. Astoria, OR

roads

Safest Roads

1. Fairbanks, AK
2. Mankato-North Mankato, MN
3. Bozeman, MT
4. Sevierville, TN
5. Kalispell, MT

 

II. The Data

Rank Metro/Micro Area GoodCall Score Population Average Law Enforcement Officer Salary Housing Affordability Index Area Amenities Employment Attractiveness Rank Violent Crime Rank Road Safety Rank
1 Corvallis, OR 392.85 86,316 $67,990 18.72% 762 5 264 9
2 Sandusky, OH 382.50 75,828 $47,620 22.96% 723 1 310 264
3 Susanville, CA 342.45 31,749 $84,210 14.93% 9 17 132 240
4 Oneonta, NY 342.40 61,128 $63,850 17.27% 601 164 216 30
5 Sonora, CA 341.75 53,831 $82,830 15.81% 14 7 132 240
6 Kokomo, IN 341.00 82,982 $48,990 19.69% 242 3 446 375
7 Truckee-Grass Valley, CA 335.85 98,893 $84,210 18.86% 459 17 198 240
8 Cortland, NY 333.85 49,024 $63,850 16.81% 199 164 220 48
9 Malone, NY 332.20 51,262 $61,600 16.05% 262 227 189 188
10 Ocean City, NJ 328.15 95,344 $70,040 22.22% 1477 39 193 190
11 Plattsburgh, NY 326.85 81,632 $61,600 18.09% 336 227 227 11
12 Sunbury, PA 326.80 93,944 $57,530 15.96% 428 439 86 309
13 Aberdeen, WA 323.35 70,818 $60,570 17.30% 281 83 277 21
14 Lewiston, ID-WA 323.25 62,196 $49,680 21.10% 123 2 271 419
15 Lewisburg, PA 322.20 44,874 $57,530 19.67% 339 439 86 309
16 Gloversville, NY 322.05 54,105 $61,600 17.13% 189 227 244 39
17 Olean, NY 319.35 78,600 $56,930 16.70% 354 191 232 14
18 DuBois, PA 316.40 81,191 $57,410 15.35% 76 339 86 309
19 Hermiston-Pendleton, OR 315.20 87,892 $52,840 19.41% 235 290 27 249
20 Walla Walla, WA 315.15 63,829 $57,380 19.35% 127 400 75 191
21 Kapaa, HI 314.75 70,475 $58,520 26.67% 760 360 25 221
22 Othello, WA 314.75 19,179 $56,150 17.76% 120 379 75 191
23 Sayre, PA 314.50 61,784 $60,050 15.95% 221 272 196 309
24 Newport, OR 313.80 46,406 $57,060 20.02% 42 414 27 249
25 Danville, IL 313.05 79,728 $51,230 17.00% 174 76 129 226
26 Shelton, WA 312.70 60,711 $60,570 20.11% 245 83 242 191
27 Freeport, IL 312.15 46,435 $51,880 19.48% 201 160 129 226
28 Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA 311.05 85,763 $60,050 17.19% 441 272 228 309
29 Alpena, MI 308.45 28,988 $50,880 17.40% 136 102 148 335
30 Elmira, NY 308.20 87,770 $62,180 16.32% 428 474 293 8
31 Bemidji, MN 308.15 45,664 $48,550 21.45% 461 329 10 206
32 Corning, NY 306.90 98,394 $56,930 17.17% 240 191 218 133
33 Pullman, WA 306.85 46,827 $57,380 18.21% 249 400 238 56
34 Auburn, NY 306.30 78,823 $63,850 17.03% 239 164 344 13
35 Marinette, WI-MI 305.55 65,012 $49,660 18.37% 236 317 54 324
36 Hood River, OR 305.10 22,885 $52,840 25.52% 301 290 27 249
37 Butte-Silver Bow, MT 304.10 34,680 $50,430 17.31% 158 516 26 536
38 Brookings, OR 303.90 22,335 $57,060 19.01% 161 414 191 249
39 Somerset, PA 303.60 76,218 $57,410 15.89% 236 339 192 309
40 Worthington, MN 303.35 21,590 $47,200 19.97% 147 374 10 206
41 The Dalles, OR 301.70 25,515 $52,840 22.17% 11 290 27 249
42 Meadville, PA 301.35 87,175 $58,040 16.24% 244 389 199 309
43 Oil City, PA 301.00 53,529 $58,040 14.47% 135 389 202 309
44 Huntingdon, PA 300.75 45,750 $57,410 15.70% 0 339 203 61
45 Brainerd, MN 300.70 91,824 $48,550 22.75% 975 329 10 206
46 Batavia, NY 299.40 59,162 $56,930 19.77% 360 191 300 33
47 Fergus Falls, MN 297.40 57,635 $48,550 21.73% 215 329 10 206
48 Oak Harbor, WA 296.75 79,275 $60,800 23.56% 1068 475 223 12
49 Manitowoc, WI 296.25 80,160 $49,580 21.56% 458 334 54 324
50 Pine Bluff, AR 295.90 94,716 $42,460 19.57% 346 81 166 503
51 Centralia, WA 294.65 75,128 $60,570 18.37% 0 83 275 191
52 Ukiah, CA 294.45 87,869 $75,370 17.20% 1080 404 358 240
53 Pahrump, NV 293.45 42,282 $52,570 20.39% 212 283 177 301
54 Albert Lea, MN 293.25 30,840 $47,470 20.09% 89 428 10 206
55 Amsterdam, NY 292.90 49,779 $61,600 17.73% 0 227 243 286
56 Ames, IA 292.90 94,073 $58,230 19.87% 642 529 295 6
57 Alexandria, MN 292.65 36,790 $48,550 23.85% 271 329 10 206
58 Austin, MN 292.55 39,323 $47,470 21.34% 168 428 10 206
59 Port Angeles, WA 291.85 72,715 $60,800 18.23% 435 475 354 18
60 Sault Ste. Marie, MI 291.70 38,321 $49,660 18.45% 277 317 148 335
61 Craig, CO 291.50 12,928 $53,380 21.78% 0 195 81 288
62 Fort Madison-Keokuk, IA-IL-MO 291.30 60,767 $47,400 17.53% 325 503 32 359
63 Klamath Falls, OR 291.15 65,455 $60,290 17.43% 374 489 334 97
64 Houghton, MI 290.65 38,712 $49,660 18.03% 208 317 148 335
65 Red Bluff, CA 290.40 63,067 $71,000 16.29% 138 6 453 28
66 Sterling, IL 290.30 56,876 $51,880 19.13% 118 160 226 110
67 New Ulm, MN 290.30 25,292 $47,470 20.59% 70 428 10 206
68 Seneca Falls, NY 289.45 34,884 $56,930 18.73% 0 191 217 188
69 Edwards, CO 289.25 52,921 $57,520 30.47% 1052 362 81 288
70 Marshall, MN 288.95 25,665 $47,200 21.62% 102 374 10 206
71 Port Clinton, OH 288.80 41,154 $52,460 21.32% 0 316 65 264
72 Charleston-Mattoon, IL 288.60 64,153 $49,910 18.50% 150 267 215 27
73 Hudson, NY 287.75 62,122 $54,610 25.06% 225 19 224 29
74 Lock Haven, PA 287.20 39,745 $57,410 17.39% 65 339 225 309
75 Coos Bay, OR 287.10 62,475 $57,060 17.88% 540 414 299 249
76 Fort Dodge, IA 287.00 36,955 $46,790 18.26% 223 495 32 359
77 Spencer, IA 286.70 16,515 $46,790 19.43% 215 495 32 359
78 Storm Lake, IA 286.60 20,578 $46,790 18.68% 130 495 32 359
79 Vineyard Haven, MA 284.90 17,356 $61,140 28.16% 0 42 139 158
80 Rochelle, IL 284.75 52,085 $51,880 23.76% 154 160 129 226
81 Ionia, MI 284.00 64,294 $58,930 18.71% 0 522 148 335
82 Marquette, MI 283.50 67,676 $49,660 19.08% 277 317 148 335
83 Taylorville, IL 283.05 33,892 $50,290 17.93% 132 183 262 226
84 Escanaba, MI 282.75 36,559 $49,660 18.51% 123 317 148 335
85 La Grande, OR 282.45 25,691 $60,290 16.66% 96 489 319 249
86 Warren, PA 281.85 40,703 $58,040 15.16% 161 389 328 309
87 Mason City, IA 279.65 50,878 $45,070 20.82% 448 388 32 359
88 Evanston, WY 278.75 20,904 $54,360 19.45% 87 382 214 470
89 Moses Lake, WA 278.70 93,147 $56,150 18.04% 259 379 324 57
90 Dixon, IL 278.45 34,735 $51,880 20.47% 0 160 221 92
91 Ottumwa, IA 277.20 43,993 $47,400 18.79% 108 503 32 359
92 Lewistown, PA 277.05 46,552 $57,530 15.89% 0 439 286 146
93 Beaver Dam, WI 276.90 88,574 $49,580 25.26% 557 334 54 324
94 Iron Mountain, MI-WI 276.45 30,438 $49,660 19.09% 76 317 148 335
95 Oskaloosa, IA 276.45 22,370 $47,400 19.14% 58 503 32 359
96 Canton, IL 276.25 36,007 $50,290 18.10% 98 183 265 226
97 Big Rapids, MI 275.90 43,186 $49,350 19.64% 175 344 148 335
98 Safford, AZ 275.55 37,957 $47,070 20.00% 164 104 141 454
99 Ellensburg, WA 275.05 42,522 $56,150 22.34% 299 379 269 191
100 Jacksonville, IL 274.40 40,133 $50,290 18.68% 140 183 301 169

 

III. Expert Opinions

There’s a nationwide conversation going on about the relationship between police and the communities they protect. In light of those discussions, we spoke with several experts about how law enforcement officers, civilians and local leaders alike can foster positive relationships and better communication. We asked them:

How can local leaders help nurture trust and positive community relations between police officers and the public they are charged with protecting?
 

David Lynch
Jon Violanti
Dr. Chris Ferguson
Nidhi Makhija
Dr. Ben Tafoya
John Cavanaugh
Scott Henrie

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

IV. Methodology

GoodCall analyzed more than 530 cities nationwide and came up with an overall ranking, based on average police officer salaries, housing affordability, area amenities, employment attractiveness, violent crime, road safety, and police-community relations. We limited our analysis to micro- and metropolitan areas with populations under 100,000.

  • Average law enforcement officer salary was taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics tool and represents the annual mean wage for police officers in 2013. This includes salary data for police and sheriff departments and represents 30% of our overall score.
  • The employment attractiveness rank is based on a combination of law enforcement officer job density, which was taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and law enforcement officer job availability, which was taken from Indeed.com. This metric, which shows how attractive an area is for job seekers, includes data for both police and sheriff departments and represents 20% of our overall score.
  • The violent crime ranking was calculated by dividing the number of violent crimes per year by a city’s population. This data comes from the FBI’s Crime in the U.S. Report, and represents 20% of our overall score.
  • The police-community relations ranking was calculated by dividing the number of police and sheriff departments that adopted a community policing mission statement by a city’s population. This data comes from the U.S. Department of Justice Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS), and represents 10% of our overall score.
  • The housing affordability index was taken from the U.S. Census American Fact Finder. This is the average percentage of income spent on housing, and represents 10% of our overall score.
  • Area amenities were taken from the U.S. Census American Fact Finder. It includes arts, entertainment and recreation, and represents 5% of our overall score.
  • The road safety ranking was calculated by dividing the number of fatal car accidents per year by a city’s population. This data comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, and represents 5% of our overall score.

Paul Southerland

Email | Twitter | LinkedIn

Paul is a High Point University graduate with a B.S. in Business and a B.A. in Strategic Communication. GoodCall's resident numbers guy, Paul is a digital marketing expert who has been working in data analysis for more than 3 years. Paul contributes to GoodCall News with original data and reports.

Latest posts by Paul Southerland (see all)

Post a comment