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Law Enforcement Careers in Arizona

The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) provides support and operational functions for the state’s highway and public safety, scientific analysis, criminal interdiction, and technical and operational support for other criminal justice agencies.

State Law Enforcement Agencies in Arizona

The DPS is divided up into the following four divisions:

  • Criminal Investigations Division
  • Director’s Office
  • Highway Patrol Division
  • Technical Services Division

The DPS, headquartered in Phoenix, has about 2,071 employees, including 1,171 sworn officers and 900 professional staff, and operates out of local offices throughout the state.

The DPS is in charge of a number of other task forces and programs within the state, as well:

  • Arizona Fusion Center
  • Arizona WANTED Task Force and Fugitives
  • Combined Accident Reduction Effort (CARE)
  • Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission
  • Illegal Immigration Preventing and Apprehension Co-op Team
  • Policia Internacional
  • Vehicle Theft Task Force
  • Highway Patrol Division

The Arizona Highway Patrol Division, which ensures the safe use of the state’s highway transportation system, also provides assistance to both local and county law enforcement agencies and oversees the air rescue and aviation services for the DPS.

The Arizona Highway Patrol Division is divided up into four bureaus based on location: North, South, Metro West, and Metro East. The Metro East Bureau is also the site of the Division’s Specialty Units, which include:

  • Canine District
  • Drug Interdiction
  • DUI Enforcement Squad
  • Motorcycle District
  • Photo Enforcement Program
  • Criminal Investigations Division (CID)

The Criminal Investigations Division (CID) provides services to the public and criminal justice community by deterring crime using investigative and enforcement strategies and resources. The primary investigative responsibilities of the CID include narcotic trafficking, organized crime, fugitive apprehension, gangs, vehicle theft, human smuggling, and financial crimes. The CID is also responsible for protecting the Governor and providing tactical services to large-scale violence and disasters.

The groups within the CID include:

  • Gang Enforcement
  • General Investigations and Narcotics
  • Intelligence and Special Operations
  • Rocky Mountain Information Network

The Arizona Law Enforcement Academy (ALEA) provides all basic training for Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) job candidates looking to become state troopers. The ALEA also provides staffing and training support for multiple law enforcement agencies.

 

Municipal Police Departments in Arizona

Policing and patrol work at the city level are the responsibility of the departments that serve specific municipal police departments. Among the biggest in Arizona are:

Phoenix

The Phoenix Police Department is the largest police department in the State of Arizona, operating with a $600+ million budget. It includes 2,900 sworn officers and about 900 civilian employees. The Phoenix Police Department services more than 1.6 million residents and patrols about 516 square miles.

The Phoenix Police Department is divided up into the following precincts:

  • Black Mountain Precinct
  • Cactus Park Precinct
  • Central City Precinct
  • Desert Horizon Precinct
  • Estrella Mountain Precinct
  • Maryvale Precinct
  • Mountain View Precinct
  • South Mountain Precinct

Phoenix Police Department police officer candidates must pass a physical agility test and background investigation. Once candidates have completed the initial phase and have interviewed with the department, they must successfully complete the second phase, which includes passing a polygraph examination, psychological test, medical examination, and controlled substance screening.

Tucson

The Tucson Police Department serves the more than 529,000 residents (metro area exceeds 1.1 million people) of the state’s second largest city. The department is divided into five patrol divisions (which are further divided into sectors):

  • Operations Division Downtown
  • Operations Division East
  • Operations Division Midtown
  • Operations Division South
  • Operations Division West

Candidates must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have a high school diploma or a GED
  • Have no felony convictions or DUI convictions within the last three years
  • Pass a pre-employment medical examination

Mesa

The Mesa Police Department is divided up into four districts, which include:

  • Central District
  • Dobson District
  • Red Mountain District
  • Superstition District

Candidates for police officer jobs in the Mesa Police Department must:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Pass a background investigation
  • Pass a medical examination

Candidates with bilingual skills and college-level courses in criminology are preferred.

Glendale

The Glendale Police Department, which has 394 police officers and 138 civilian employees and serves more than 226,000 residents, has three stations strategically located throughout Glendale: Main/Downtown Station; Foothills Station; and Gateway Station.

The Glendale Police Department is also broken down into the following Divisions/Squads:

  • Communications Division
  • Traffic Division
  • Victim Assistance
  • Graffiti Busters
  • Criminal Investigations Division

Candidates for police officer jobs with the Glendale Police Department must:

  • Be a high school graduate or equivalent
  • Be of sound physical and mental health
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Pass a thorough background investigation and polygraph examination
  • Be at least 21 years of age (at the time of graduation from the law enforcement academy)
  • Hold an Arizona Class D operator’s license

Police officer recruits must complete an Arizona certified law enforcement academy for 18 weeks and then complete a field training program to qualify to become a Glendale police officer.

County Sheriff’s Departments in Arizona

Arizona is comprised of huge unincorporated areas that often fall outside the jurisdiction of city police departments. That’s where the state’s proud county sheriff’s offices step in:

Maricopa County

The Maricopa County’s Sheriff Office patrols an area of 9,200 square miles and includes seven districts. Candidates for deputy sheriff jobs in Maricopa County must be at least 21 years of age; must be a U.S. citizen; must have a high school diploma or GED; must have no felony convictions; must have no misdemeanor convictions within the last three years; and must have not been dishonorably discharged from the armed services.

Pima County

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department requires that all candidates for sheriff’s deputy positions in Pima County must be at least 21 years old; must have a high school diploma or GED; must be a United States citizen; must have no felony convictions; must have not used narcotics or dangerous drugs in the past 7 years; and must not have used marijuana within the last 3 years.

Pinal County

All individuals interested in becoming sheriff’s deputies in Pinal County must:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Successfully complete a written exam, psychological exam, polygraph test, physical or stress test, and a background exam

Arizona Law Enforcement Salaries

2018 statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal a median salary of $65,220, with the top 10% earning an average salary of $81,400.

The following salary data, pulled directly from the respective departments/agencies, show starting salaries and, in some instances, mid- and senior-level salaries. Unless otherwise noted, starting salaries are for post-Academy officers. Incentive pay is also included, where applicable.

Police Officer Salaries

The average starting salary for police officers among the state’s largest police departments is $53,576, with officers of the Mesa Police Department coming out on top, at $56,534.

  • Chandler Police Department

Police officers with the Chandler Police Department earn a starting salary of $53,414 ($25.68/hourly), with salary increases available to $78,832 ($37.90/hour). Field training officers earn an additional 5%, and bilingual officers (Spanish only) may earn up to 5% more based upon their skill level.

  • Glendale Police Department

Police officer recruits with the Glendale Police Department earn a salary of $54,350. Then, after graduation from the police academy, salaries for these law enforcement professionals increase by steps:

  • Step 1: $57,067
  • Step 2: $59,920
  • Step 3: $62,916
  • Step 4: $66,062
  • Step 5: $69,365
  • Step 6: $72,833
  • Step 7: $76,476
  • Step 8: $80,299

Police officers here with bilingual skills who are able to pass a competency exam earn an additional 3%, and those who work special assignments like SWAT, computer forensics, vehicular crimes, and sex crimes also earn an additional 3%:

  • Mesa Police Department

Police officers with the Mesa Police Department earn a starting salary of $56,534, with senior level officers earning as much as $79,789. Salary incentives are available for field training and bilingual officers.

  • Scottsdale Police Department

The police officers of the Scottsdale Police Department earn a salary of $27.14/hour ($56,451) and $39.45/hour ($82,056).

  • Tucson Police Department

Police officers with the Tucson Police Department earn a starting salary of $47,132 ($22.66/hour). Officers on special assignment earn an additional 5%, and detectives earn an additional 10%.

Sheriff’s Deputy Salaries

Sheriff’s deputies earn a lower starting salary than police officers in Arizona, with an average starting salary for sheriff’s deputies among the state’s largest counties at just $45,891 – that’s about $10,000 less than police officers.

  • Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department

Sworn deputies with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department earn a starting salary of $22.28/hour ($46,342), while POST-certified deputies earn between $24.80/hour ($51,584) and $36.35/hour ($75,608).

  • Mohave County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff’s deputies with the Mohave County Sheriff’s Department earn an annual salary of between $41,558 and $64,438.

  • Pinal County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff’s deputies of the Pinal County Sheriff’s Department earn a minimum salary of $45,969, a mid-salary of $58,611, and a maximum salary of $71,252.

  • Pima County Sheriff’s Department

Deputy trainees with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department earn $22.62/hour ($47,049). Then, after probation (18 months from hire), their salary increases to between $47,049 and $53,040.

  • Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department

Deputy sheriff recruits of the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department earn a starting salary of $41,974. The salary range for sheriff’s deputies here is $48,540-$72,993.

State Trooper and State Police Salaries 

Arizona State Troopers with the Arizona Department of Public Safety can expect a salary’s that similar to those among police officers in municipal police departments. Cadets here earn a salary of $44,301 while in training (both pre-academy and basic training – about 28 weeks).

After graduation and certification, state trooper salaries increase to $51,685, with top troopers earning a maximum salary of $72,413 (based on a nine-step process).

 

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018 https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_az.htm.

BLS salary data represents state and MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Agency-level salary and employment data was sourced directly from the municipal, county and state law enforcement agencies named and reflects the specific salary ranges and seniority- or rank-based pay described by the respective agency.

All salary and employment data accessed in August 2019.