Ideas & Insights: Research on Civilians in Policing

Civilian employees are an important resource in policing, but they have been largely overlooked by researchers. The biggest focus has been on the growth in their numbers—civilian employees grew from approximately 7–8 percent of law enforcement employees in the 1950s to 15–20 percent in the 1970s. The numbers have not changed much since then; in 2008 (the most recent year from which data are available), civilians accounted for slightly more than 26 percent of police personnel in the United States. The data presented here were collected in 2011 through online surveys of law enforcement agency employees conducted by the National Policing Research Platform.