In 75 Largest U.S. Cities, 60% of Police Live Outside the City They Patrol

Friday, August 22, 2014
Ferguson, Missouri police (AP Photo)

It’s a nice place to work, but you wouldn’t want to live there. That’s the attitude of many police officers on big-city forces. In 75 of the biggest cities in the country 60% or more of the police officers live outside the city in which they work.


The percentage of police officers that live in the city in which they work is a function of three factors, according to Nate Silver of


The first is a city’s racial makeup and that of the police force. Officers who are members of minority groups are more likely to live in their city than white officers. Overall, 49% of black officers, 47% of Hispanic officers and only 35% of white officers live and work in the same city. The gaps are widest in cities with high African-American populations. In Detroit, 57% of black officers live in the city but only 8% of white officers do.


The second determining factor is whether a city requires its officers to live there. Chicago requires city employees to live there and as such, it has a very high percentage of its police officers residing there. Los Angeles, on the other hand, doesn’t have residency requirements for its officers and about three-quarters of them don’t live in the city.


The third factor is geography. Cities whose boundaries encompass most of the area in which they’re situated have a greater percentage of their police officers living there. One example is Jacksonville, Florida, which covers almost all the county in which it sits. More than 80% of its officers live there.


What about Ferguson, Missouri? That city’s police force is too small to have census data on where its police officers live to be broken out. Its police force is overwhelmingly white, but that’s not unusual even for cities where the majority of the population is a member of a minority group. According to The Washington Post, police forces in larger cities more closely mirror the racial makeup of the population. Smaller cities continue to struggle with the racial makeup of their police departments. A quarter of the residents of Florissant, Missouri, just north of Ferguson, are black. None of the members of its 25-person police force are.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Most Police Don’t Live In The Cities They Serve (by Nate Silver,  

Where Minority Communities Still Have Overwhelmingly White Police (by Emily Badger, Dan Keating and Kennedy Elliott, Washington Post)


Y 9 years ago
If cops worked where they lived people would figure out where the cops live. Then the cops would either be killed or their houses would be burned down.

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