April 27, 2024

New PERF survey shows police agencies have turned a corner with staffing challenges

Last year, PERF asked its members to share information about their agencies’ staffing numbers in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022. This year, we updated that survey to include staffing information about 2023.

The findings, available below, are encouraging. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, agencies reported a year-over-year increase in total sworn staffing. Responding agencies reported hiring more sworn officers in 2023 than in any of the previous four years. Agencies saw fewer resignations in 2023 than they did in 2021 or 2022, though they still had more officers resign last year than in 2019 or 2020. And retirements dropped back down to roughly where they were in 2019 after being elevated for the previous three years.

Small and medium agencies now have more sworn officers than they had in January 2020.  In large agencies, sworn staffing slightly increased during 2023, but it is still more than 5 percent below where it was in January 2020.

About the Survey

We sent this survey in January to all PERF members who are chief executives of their agencies (chiefs, sheriffs, commissioners, etc.). The 214 responses came from agencies serving 40 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada: 188 local law enforcement agencies; 14 college, university, or school district law enforcement agencies; six state law enforcement agencies; three transportation law enforcement agencies; two housing law enforcement agencies; and one hospital law enforcement agency.

Responding agencies employed a total of 151,335 sworn officers in 2024. Due to the composition of PERF’s membership, larger agencies are overrepresented in this survey.

Comparison to Previous Years’ Surveys

This is the third consecutive year PERF has surveyed its members about staffing numbers since 2019. More agencies responded to this year’s survey (214 this year, compared to 182 in 2023 and 184 in 2022), and this year’s respondents employ more officers (more than 150,000, compared to roughly 80,000 last year and 130,000 in 2022). This year’s survey and the 2022 survey included Canadian agencies, while the 2023 survey was limited to U.S. agencies.

Despite these differences, the three surveys found similar trends. The second graph in each section below compares the results of the 2022, 2023, and 2024 surveys.


The 2024 survey asked agencies to provide their total sworn staffing numbers on January 1 of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024. Respondents reported that in January 2024, sworn staffing was 0.4 percent higher than in January 2023 and 4.9 percent lower than in January 2020.

This is consistent with the findings of PERF’s 2022 and 2023 surveys.

Large agencies (250+ officers) reported the greatest staffing challenges, while medium agencies (50-249 officers) and small agencies (1-49 officers) are now employing more officers than they were in January 2020.



Agencies provided the total number of sworn officers hired during calendar years 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023. They reported a decline of almost 18 percent in 2020, but hiring has since rebounded. In 2023, responding agencies hired nearly 30 percent more sworn officers than in 2020 and 6.4 percent more than in 2019.

This generally aligns with the findings of previous staffing surveys.

Agencies of all sizes saw hiring increases. Small agencies hired 38 percent more officers in 2023 than in 2019, while medium agencies hired 25 percent more and large agencies hired nearly 5 percent more.



Resignations among sworn officers increased by 2.5 percent from 2019 to 2020, then increased by almost 40 percent in 2021, and another 14 percent in 2022. There was then a 21.6 percent decrease in resignations in 2023. There were 28.6 percent more resignations in 2023 than in 2019.

This is consistent with the findings of previous surveys.


Resignations remain elevated in agencies of all sizes. Large agencies had 29 percent more resignations in 2023 than in 2019, medium agencies had 23 percent more, and small agencies had 82 percent more.



Sworn officer retirements increased almost 30 percent from 2019 to 2020, decreased by more than 5 percent in 2021, increased again by almost 8 percent in 2022, and decreased again by almost 24 percent in 2023. Agencies had roughly 1 percent more retirements in 2023 than in 2019.

This year’s survey largely aligned with the 2022 survey. The 2023 survey showed retirements peaking in 2021, while this year’s found dual peaks in 2020 and 2022.

After three years of increased retirements, large agencies had slightly fewer retirements in 2023 than in 2019. Retirements were elevated above 2019 levels in medium agencies (19 percent higher) and extremely elevated in small agencies (136 percent higher).