The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics has issued a census of the nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies around the nation, but the data are from September 2008, before the recession hit full force. At that time, police agencies had added 33,000 full-time sworn personnel in the previous four years, 9,500 more than were added between 2000 and 2004 but fewer than were added in the 1990s when the economy was doing well and the federal COPS program was helping with police hiring.
There were about 765,000 sworn law enforcement employees as of September 2008, of which a little under 600,000 were from local police agencies. The rest were from sheriff’s offices, state agencies and other types of law enforcement. The census showed that of about 12,500 local police departments, more than 9,500 had fewer than 25 employees. Only 92 police departments had more than 500 on the payroll. the overall median number of police officers was 8.