Use of Force, Training And Costs For law Enforcement Agencies Per The USDOJ

Highlights-Police Policies

Training, costs, community policing, use of force, use of blunt force projectiles (i.e., bean bags-rubber bullets), use of chemical agents (tear gas), active shooter, body-worn cameras, cultural awareness training, mass demonstrations, racial profiling, and external investigation policies for police agencies per the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice.


There is a new document from The Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice documenting the use of force, training hours, costs per officer, and related policies of “local” police departments, BJS.

There is a separate report on sheriff’s department policies, BJS.

The focus of this article is on local police agencies. The surveys were conducted in 2016.

The data needs to be read carefully; there will be considerable differences between smaller and larger agencies. Readers may want to go to the charts offered (including footnotes) and look carefully at the variables.  For example, the average police recruit receives approximately 1,000 hours of training but this increases to approximately 1,800 for larger agencies.

The differences between smaller and larger agencies continue throughout the document. There will also be considerable differences in measurements between officers and agencies.

Please note that I use rounded percentages. I added some charts below because of the complexity of the issue addressed.

No finding from the Bureau of Justice Statistics is absolute because of the complexity of a national survey. There are 18,000 police agencies with thousands of individuals interpreting questions and the most appropriate responses.


Training: The average police agency provides 1,000 hours of training. Training ranges from 700 to 1,800 hours depending on population. Cities of over 1,000,000 people had the highest number of training hours.

Community Policing Plan: 42 percent of police departments have a written community policing plan, ranging from 36 percent to 80 percent. Cities of over 1,000,000 people had the highest percentage.

Costs: The average resident spends $275.00 for law enforcement services annually ranging from $255.00 to $401.00 depending on population. Cities of over 1,000,000 spend the most. There are considerable differences in the average costs for a law enforcement officer depending on the population ($60,000 for smaller agencies to $195,000 for larger agencies).

In-Service Training: The average annual number for in-service training is 39, ranging from 31 to 43.

Written Policies: The vast majority of police departments have written policies as to key topics (i.e., racial profiling, stop and frisk, off duty conduct). The lowest categories include body-worn cameras (48 percent), mass demonstrations (42 percent), acts of terrorism (41 percent), and cultural awareness training, 48 percent. Larger cities had considerably higher percentages. I suggest you focus on the percentage of officers rather than the percentage of agencies. See the chart below:

Policies Of Police Agencies
Policies Of Police Agencies

Firearm Discharge: 83 percent of all departments require written documentation if a firearm is discharged. 54 percent require documentation is displayed.

Less Than Lethal Restraints: Most police agencies authorize less than lethal techniques. The exception is neck restraints (34 percent of all agencies) but neck restraints are authorized by 53 percent of agencies with a population of 1,000,00 or more. See the chart below.

Police Less Than Lethal Policies
Police Less Than Lethal Policies

Less Than Lethal Weapons: The vast majority of police agencies authorize less than lethal weapons. The exception is the use of explosives which is authorized by 10 percent of all departments but is used by 73 percent of agencies serving a population of 1,000,000 or more. It’s similar for blunt force projectiles (i.e., bean bags-rubber bullets) and chemical agent projectiles being authorized by less than half of agencies but used by the majority of larger agencies. The differences between the percentage of officers and the percentage of agencies are considerable. See the chart below:

Police Less Than Lethal Policies
Police Less Than Lethal Policies

External Investigations: Most police agencies require an external investigation of the discharge of a firearm in the direction of a person (59 percent), in custody death not due to use of force (74 percent), use of force resulting in bodily injury (60 percent) and use of force resulting in death (83 percent).

Civilian Complaint Review Board:  11 percent percent of all departments have a civilian complaint review board. The percentage increases to 51 percent for cities of 250,000 or more.

See More

See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.

Most Dangerous Cities/States/Countries at Most Dangerous Cities.

US Crime Rates at Nationwide Crime Rates.

National Offender Recidivism Rates at Offender Recidivism.

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Author information

Leonard Sipes

Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. – Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Former Adjunct Associate Professor of criminology and public affairs-University of Maryland, University College. Former advisor to presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Former advisor to the “McGruff-Take a Bite Out of Crime” national media campaign. Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. Aspiring drummer.


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