The 10 best states to make a living as a police officer in 2017

Nov 21, 2017
View article in PoliceOne

By Megan Wells, PoliceOne Contributor

Each year, PoliceOne analyzes 50 states and Washington D.C. to determine which offers the best comprehensive wages for law enforcement officials.

After the 2016 edition was published, we received requests to include a deeper look at income and property taxes. We listened. And this year, we’ve added several new data points.

Criteria
In short, we used a weighted average to compare:

  • Salary
  • Cost of living
  •  Income tax
  • Property taxes

A detailed breakdown of the methodology can be found at the end of this article.

Notable changes from 2016:

  • Only four states from the 2016 list appear in 2017.
  • Six of the 10 states to make this list don’t have an income tax.
  • One state on this list sits below the national average wage for police officers, which is $57,129.

See if your state made the list.

Methodology

We used a weighted system to measure the best states for police officers to make a living. The data points we measured are as follows:

  • Salary (35%) Using Bureau of Labor Statistics data we found the annual mean wage for patrol officers in each state.
  • Cost of living (20%) We used the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center to rank each state’s cost of living.
  • State income tax percentage (30%) We used the Tax Foundation to find max tax rates in each state. Data is valid as of July 2017. States with an * by them indication a flat income rate throughout the state.
  • Property tax (15%) We used the Tax Foundation to find property taxes which are effective tax rates on owner-occupied homes.

The lack of consistent variables makes it difficult to include pension information in our write up.  We do acknowledge long-lasting financial security paints a more robust picture of which states allow officers the best living.

Click for the full national ranking.

2017 Police Salary Ranking
State National Rank Salary Salary Rank Salary weighted by rank Cost of living ranking (rank 1 is the lowest) COL weighted by rank Income tax percent Income tax rank Income tax weighted by rank Property taxes (1 is the lowest)
Nevada 1 $72,040 6 2.1 36 7.2 0 1 0.3 22
Washington 2 $76,340 4 1.4 37 7.4 0 1 0.3 29
Wyoming 3 $55,490 26 9.1 20 4 0 1 0.3 8
Alaska 4 $79,510 3 1.05 47 9.4 0.00% 1 0.3 32
Texas 5 $60,350 19 6.65 11 2.2 0 1 0.3 46
Colorado 6 $68,290 11 3.85 35 7 4.63%* 13 3.9 9
Arizona 7 $62,470 17 5.95 23 4.6 4.54% 12 3.6 16
Michigan 8 $57,240 22 7.7 3 0.6 4.25%* 11 3.3 44
Florida 9 $57,160 24 8.4 28 5.6 0 1 0.3 27
Illinois 10 $70,850 8 2.8 24 4.8 4.95%* 15 4.5 50
Pennsylvania 11 $65,130 15 5.25 32 6.4 3.07% 9 2.7 39
Ohio 12 $57,850 21 7.35 12 2.4 5.00% 16 4.8 40
Indiana 13 $51,960 32 11.2 16 3.2 3.23%* 10 3 24
New Mexico 14 $50,420 35 12.25 14 2.8 4.90% 14 4.2 12
Alabama 15 $43,250 44 15.4 8 1.6 5% 16 4.8 2
Delaware 16 $66,440 13 4.55 34 6.8 6.60% 34 10.2 4
Utah 17 $50,600 34 11.9 25 5 5% 16 4.8 11
Tennesee 18 $43,810 43 15.05 7 1.4 5% 16 4.8 14
North Dakota 19 $53,800 30 10.5 30 6 2.90% 8 2.4 31
South Dakota 20 $46,000 39 13.65 22 4.4 0 1 0.3 36
Oklahoma 21 $44,650 42 14.7 5 1 5% 16 4.8 23
Mississippi 22 $34,550 51 17.85 1 0.2 5% 16 4.8 17
Massachusetts 23 $66,220 14 4.9 45 9 5.10% 23 6.9 34
District of Columbia 24 $73,250 5 1.75 50 10 8.95% 45 13.5 5
Missouri 25 $47,510 37 12.95 4 0.8 6% 29 8.7 26
Hawaii 26 $70,060 9 3.15 51 10.2 8.25% 43 12.9 1
Virginia 27 $54,940 28 9.8 33 6.6 5.75% 26 7.8 15
Maryland 28 $64,010 16 5.6 46 9.2 5.75% 26 7.8 30
Kansas 29 $46,140 38 13.3 9 1.8 5.20% 24 7.2 37
California 30 $96,660 1 0.35 49 9.8 13.30% 51 15.3 18
North Carolina 31 $45,280 41 14.35 18 3.6 5.50% 25 7.5 19
Idaho 32 $50,660 33 11.55 16 3.2 7.40% 41 12.3 13
Nebraska 33 $55,180 27 9.45 13 2.6 6.84% 35 10.5 45
Iowa 34 $56,310 25 8.75 6 1.2 8.98% 48 14.4 38
Louisiana 35 $39,390 49 17.15 19 3.8 6% 29 8.7 3
New Hampshire 36 $54,660 29 10.15 39 7.8 5% 16 4.8 49
Arkansas 37 $38,020 50 17.5 2 0.4 6.90% 36 10.8 10
New Jersey 38 $87,490 2 0.7 41 8.2 8.97% 47 14.1 51
Connecticut 39 $68,520 10 3.5 43 8.6 6.99% 38 11.4 48
Wisconsin 40 $58,050 20 7 21 4.2 7.65% 42 12.6 47
Kentucky 41 $42,810 45 15.75 17 3.4 6% 29 8.7 20
Rhode Island 42 $57,180 23 8.05 42 8.4 5.99% 28 8.4 42
Georgia 43 $40,770 48 16.8 10 2 6% 29 8.7 25
Montana 44 $52,880 31 10.85 31 6.2 6.90% 37 11.1 21
New York 45 $70,990 7 2.45 48 9.6 8.82% 44 13.2 41
Minnesota 46 $61,870 18 6.3 29 5.8 9.85% 49 14.7 33
Oregon 47 $68,170 12 4.2 44 8.8 9.90% 50 15 28
West Virginia 48 $42,130 47 16.45 26 5.2 6.50% 33 9.9 7
South Carolina 49 $42,180 46 16.1 27 5.4 7% 39 11.7 5
Maine 50 $45,700 40 14 38 7.6 7.15% 40 12 35
Vermont 51 $48,360 36 12.6 40 8 8.95% 45 13.5 43
National Average $57,129

 

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