Law Enforcement Careers in the District of Columbia

Stats published by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) show a mixed bag of violent crime trends, revealing that while this city has made significant strides in recent years, it still has persistent crime problems that call for the tireless efforts of the MPD.

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MPD crime stats show a decrease in many violent crimes between 2017 and 2018, including sex abuse (-8%), assault with a dangerous weapon (-10%), robbery (-7%), and burglary (-7%). However, homicides during this time jumped from 116 to 160, an increase of 38%. Recent statistics show that 2019 will again post an upward trend in homicides.

Working in the trenches as a law enforcement officer in Washington D.C. is not for the faint of heart; it’s for those with a fire in their chest for justice and a willingness to devote themselves to making a difference in the lives of those who live, work, and visit our nation’s capital. A career in law enforcement here is exciting, fulfilling, and offers unparalleled opportunities for advancement and specialization.

Jobs with Washington D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department

The Metropolitan Police Department is Washington D.C.’s centralized law enforcement agency. Most often referred to as the Metro Police or simply the MPD, the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department ranks among the top ten local police forces in the U.S.

The MPD has more than 4,000 sworn and civilian members and is divided into seven police districts, each of which is then further organized into police service areas (PSAs). All police districts have between seven and nine PSAs, each of which is assigned its own team of police officers. Because of its location within an independent federal city, the MPD must serve as a local, county, and state police agency.

MPD officers often work alongside a number of law enforcement agencies, including the United States Secret Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Capitol Police, and the United States Park Police.

Jobs with the Specialized Units of the DC Metro Police

The MPD has a number of specialized units. Officers with at least three years of experience working for the MPD may apply for a position with one of the following specialized units:

  • Emergency Response Team
  • Bomb Squad
  • Harbor Patrol Unit
  • Canine Unit
  • Helicopter Unit
  • Special Events
  • Special Investigations
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The MPD’s Executive Office of the Chief of Police is organized into seven bureaus:

  • Internal Affairs Bureau
  • Strategic Services Bureau
  • Homeland Security Bureau
  • Patrol Services and School Security Bureau
  • Professional Development Bureau
  • Corporate Support Bureau
  • Investigative Services Bureau

The MPD also has operates a number of units that are designed to better assist the general public:

  • Youth Investigations Branch
  • Victims Specialists Unit
  • Major Case Victims Unit
  • Latino Liaison Unit
  • Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit
  • Firearms Registration Unit
  • Financial Crimes and Fraud Unit
  • Family Liaison Specialist Unit
  • Evidence Control Division
  • Domestic Violence Unit
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit
  • Corporate Support Bureau
  • Community Outreach
  • Civil Rights and Force Investigations Branch
  • Asian Liaison Unit
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How to Become a Police Officer with the DC Metro Police Department

Candidates must complete an extensive police officer background investigation process that may take up to six months to complete. The required activities during this period include:

  • New candidate orientation
  • Physical ability test and a written examination
  • Fingerprinting
  • Polygraph examination
  • Medical and psychological evaluation

District of Columbia Law Enforcement Salaries

According to data obtained directly from the Metropolitan Police Department, police officers of the MPD earn between $58,163 and $106,742. Salary increases here are based on experience, commendation, and increases in rank:

  • Sergeant: $78,993-$132,056
  • Detective: $72,703-$122,512
  • Lieutenant: $87,079-$137,085
  • Captain: $103,163-$153,986


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.