The 10 Most Over-Policed Cities in America

These ten cities have a large amount of police to citizens.

As America wrestles with reforming law enforcement practices following national unrest over bigotry and police brutality, career expert Zippia.com looked at where law enforcement is abundant. Using the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting data, Zippia analyzed 353 U.S. cities to compile a list of cities with the most police officers per 10,000 residents. A city is considered “over-policed” the higher the police-to-citizen ratio.

Zippia’s Top 10 include large, northeastern cities and popular tourist towns. “These cities have an outsized proportion of police-related employment relative to the size of the local population,” said Chris Kolmar, co-founder and vice president of marketing at Zippia. “We did not take into account crime in the city or police brutality when creating the list.”

But Jonathan Newton of The National Association Against Police Brutality said the list falls short of accurately depicting over-policing in America, especially when it comes to communities of color. “There is such a thing as over-policing, especially in Black and Brown communities where there’s a tendency for heavy policing,” said Newton, a Maryland attorney, and former law enforcement officer. Find out the arguments for why the police should be defunded.

Check Zippia’s full list to see where your city ranks. Here are Zippia’s Top 10 over-policed cities:

10. Chicago

Police Officers: 11,954
Total Employees: 13,135
Total Employees Per 10k population: 48.2

With 11,954 police officers, Chicago has the second-largest police force and the third-largest popular for a city in the United States. Add the support staff and the Windy City employs 13,135 workers. That’s 48 police officers for every 10,000 residents.

9. Newark, New Jersey

Police Officers: 1,113
Total Employees: 1,383
Total Employees Per 10k Population: 49.1

More than 282,000 people live in Newark, making it the Garden State’s largest city. Considered the cultural center of the state, Newark employs 49 people for every 10,000 residents.

8. Wilmington, Delaware

Police Officers: 302
Total Employees: 360
Total Employees Per 10k Population: 49.9

Wilmington holds the distinction of being the nation’s eighth-most overpoliced city. Its police force has 360 employees to its 70,000 residents.

7. Philadelphia

Police Officers: 6,313
Total Employees: 7,995
Total Employees Per 10k Population: 50.9

It may be the City of Brotherly Love but Philly may have a bit of Big Brother vibe going on as well with nearly 51 cops for every 10,000 residents.

6. St. Louis

Police Officers: 1,194
Total Employees: 1,632
Total Employees Per 10k Population: 51.9

Home to the 630-foot Gateway Arch and recent protests, St. Louis also has nearly 51 police officers per 10,000 residents.

5. Miami Beach

Police Officers: 394
Total Employees: 492
Total Employees Per 10k Population: 52.8

Known for its beaches, Miami Beach is a town where you’re likely to see more police officers than other cities. There are 52 police-related employees for every 10,000 people.

4. New York City

Police Officers: 36,228
Total Employees: 51,399
Total Employees Per 10k Population: 60

Here’s a bit of trivia for you: New York City has more police officers than Myrtle Beach (the second most over-policed city) has people. The City That Never Sleeps has 60 employees for every 10,000 residents. It’s a fairly safe metropolis with lower than average violent crime. However, they have the largest police force in the nation with 36,228 officers.

3. Washington, D.C.

Police Officers: 3,753
Total Employees: 4,352
Total Employees Per 10k Population: 63.9

The Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia has 4,352 individuals to police the nation’s capital. With 63.9 employees per 10,000 residents, it lands third on the list. Find out the real reason Washington, D.C. isn’t a state.

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Police Officers: 219
Total Employees: 300
Total Employees Per 10k Population: 94.2

It may be known for its surf and sand but Myrtle Beach also has a bit of notoriety. Kolmar cited the city as one of the places with “ a high amount of raw crime.” That said, it has a higher-than-average number of police officers strolling the resort town. Myrtle Beach has an estimated 2020 population of 35,760.

1. Atlantic City, New Jersey

Police Officers: 278
Total Employees: 397
Total Employees Per 10k Population: 101.3

“America’s playground” is crawling with police. There’s roughly one police officer for every 100 people. It’s a sure bet you’ll run into an officer in blue as you stroll along the boardwalk or beach after a night at the casinos. It’s no wonder it feels like there’s a police officer under every lamp post. Find out what it’s really like to be a black police officer right now.

For more on this important issue, see our guide to the Fight Against Racism.

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Tammy Joyner
Tammy Joyner is an award-winning, Atlanta-based journalist who writes about business news, the workplace, popular culture, current events, social issues, and other topics. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Glamour Magazine, Delta Sky Magazine, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Detroit News, The Detroit Free Press, Digital Privacy News, Georgia Health News, and other publications.