Survey Results: Top Cop Pay Falling Behind

Since 2006, hospital, school and university police chief/security director salaries have stagnated, but line officers have fared better. Sworn officer pay has increased by nearly 9 percent, while wages for nonsworn campus security personnel have increased by more than 3 percent.

One would think that campus security directors and police chiefs would have reaped the benefits of the economic prosperity America enjoyed during the past several years. At the very least, their incomes should have increased every year by at least 3 percent, which is the normal rate of inflation. Right?

Not so, at least according to the Fourth Annual Campus Safety Salary Study and Industry Census. The average annual income for campus law enforcement/security executives has actually gone down, albeit slightly, every year since 2006, from $74,244 to $73,321 in 2008.

By contrast, novice sworn officer pay has kept up with the rate of inflation. In two years, the average starting salary for sworn officers has increased nearly 9 percent, from $30,487 in 2006 to $33,114 in 2008. That said, campus sworn officer income still has a long way to go before it reaches parity with most traditional law enforcement agencies, such as the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, which pays $48,716 to rookies.

Nonsworn officer pay has fluctuated during the past two years. Although their average pay increased by more than 11 percent since last year’s study, when taken with the results from 2006, they have seen only a modest increase in their paychecks (3.6 percent over two years).

Part 1 of this year’s study, the results of which follow, has been expanded to include the incentives that campuses offer to attract and retain good officers. Part 2, which will appear in the next issue, will discuss the top concerns of campus law enforcement executives, as well as the weapons status and demographics of security and police personnel.

The 13 charts and graphs that follow will show how you, your officers and your department compare with your peers.

About the Study

An online questionnaire was E-mailed to subscribers in July and August of 2008. Additionally, the survey was posted on Campus Safety’s Web site during that same time period, and subscribers were encouraged to take the survey online.

Thirty percent of respondents indicated their campuses are located in the Midwest; 28 percent in the Northeast, 24 percent in the South and 19 percent in the West. Of the 772 individuals who took the survey, 74 percent said they work for educational campuses; 23 percent work for hospitals; 2 percent work for medical colleges/universities with hospitals; and 1 percent indicated “other.”

Note: Chart percentages may not total 100 percent due to rounding. The margin of error is + or – 3 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

Campus Safety magazine thanks all of the public safety professionals who participated in this year’s study. For additional information about this research, please contact CS Executive Editor Robin Hattersley Gray at with “Salary Study and Industry Census” in the subject line.

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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