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Law Enforcement Careers in Kansas

According to the 2018 Kansas Crime Index maintained by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation Incident Based Reporting Unit, the violent crime index revealed more than 4 incidents for every 1,000 residents, representing a more than 5% increase over 2017, and overall was nearly 17% higher than the ten-year average. This includes homicides, with about 15% more incidents occurring in 2018 than the average for the past ten years – though down considerably from 2017, which represented the worst year in a decade for the state’s homicide rate. Property crimes including theft were down 2% since 2018, the number of burglaries fell more than 22% below the ten-year average, while motor vehicle theft was 20% over the averages seen in the past decade.

These statistics are concerning in many ways for the law enforcement professionals on the front lines in the fight to keep the people and property of Kansas safe. They also help tell the story of the work being done at the city, county and state level by municipal police departments, county sheriff’s offices and the state police and highway patrol serving the cities, unincorporated areas, and rural enclaves of Kansas.

 

Statewide Law Enforcement Agencies

Law enforcement is a concerted effort between agencies serving different jurisdictions. The largest of those jurisdictions go to the Kansas Highway Patrol and Bureau of Investigation.

Kansas Highway Patrol

There are more than 800 troopers serving in the Kansas Highway Patrol. These professionals have statewide authority to enforce traffic laws and can respond to incidents that occur anywhere in the state. Though Kansas Troopers are state employees, they are involved at the local level. The agency partners with chapters of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) campaign and additionally participates with youth in Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) events. Other activities include the Safe Kids program and fundraisers supporting the Special Olympics.

To qualify to become a state trooper with the Kansas Highway Patrol, candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent, a clean driving record and criminal history, and complete a law enforcement academy program that includes extensive driver safety and field sobriety test training.

Kansas Bureau of Investigation

Operating under the Kansas Office of the Attorney General, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) is the criminal investigative arm of the Kansas State government. The KBI is the state leader in laboratory and professional investigation services, and has been since 1939.

Special agents with the KBI work closely with other law enforcement agencies within one of the agency’s five divisions:

  • Field Investigations Division
  • Special Operations Division
  • Forensic Laboratory Division
  • Information Services Division
  • Information Technology

Special agent candidates must have at least six years of law enforcement experience and/or post-secondary education.

Kansas Sheriff’s Departments

Outside of municipal boundaries, the law of the land is enforced by the county-level sheriff’s offices whose deputies patrol and respond to incidents that fall outside the jurisdiction of municipal police departments. They also often work within the boundaries of those municipal jurisdictions, partnering with city police departments when they’re needed.

The minimum requirement to become a deputy sheriff in one of Kansas’ numerous counties is usually a high school diploma or GED equivalent, although some departments prefer candidates with a post-secondary education.

Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office

The Sedgewick County Sheriff’s Office, as one of the largest law enforcement agencies in Kansas, employees 537 deputies and other professionals throughout its four bureaus: Administration, Detention, Law Enforcement, and Reserve. Deputies with the Sedgewick County Sheriff’s Office may be assigned to judicial services or perform out-of-state extraditions that involve bringing fugitives who have fled the state back into Kansas to stand trial.

Candidates must be at least 21 years old and possess a high school diploma/GED and valid driver’s license.

Johnson County Sheriff’s Office

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office includes a patrol division that has 41 members, including 27 deputies, and has three substations in De Soto, Edgerton, and Stillwell.

Sheriff’s deputy candidates for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office must be at least 21 years old and demonstrate responsibility and stability as shown in their personality and relationships with others.

Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office

The Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office with 3 divisions, in addition to its administrative office: S.E.R.T. (Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team), investigations/operations/judicial, and community support and services.

Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, and they must be at least 21 years by the date of hire.

Municipal Police Departments in Kansas

Within city limits, most crime fighting and public safety work falls within the purview of municipal police departments.

A handful of the biggest agencies in the state include the Wichita, Overland Park, Topeka, Olathe and Lawrence Police Departments:

Wichita Police Department

The Wichita Police Department is organized into the three divisions: field and services, investigative, and support services. Applicants must have a basic education and mostly clean background and driving history. Any past acts of dishonesty or questionable financial behavior, including overdrawn bank accounts, must be explained.

Overland Park Police Department

The Overland Police Department consists of 310 full-time employees, 255 commissioned officers, and four divisions: Patrol, Patrol Support, Investigations, and Support Services.

Police officer candidates meet basic education requirements and may not have any immediate family members employed full or part time by the city of Overland Park.

Topeka Police Department

The primary mission of the Topeka Police Department is to increase the safety of local neighborhoods and reduce crime. A college education is recommended but not required for those who wish to apply to become a police officers with the Topeka PD.

Olathe Police Department

The Olathe Police Department’s patrol division includes officers that patrol the streets of Olathe 24 hours a day. The department is home to a number of specialized units, including a field training unit, a gang unit, honor guard, K-9 unit, and more. Deputy candidates must have a relatively clean driving record and will not be considered if an immediate family member is employed by the city of Olathe.

Lawrence Police Department

Candidates with the Lawrence Police Department must, at a minimum, have a high school diploma/GED, although preference is given to those with a college education. Candidates must also submit to an extensive background check, polygraph, physical fitness, and drug test.

Kansas Law Enforcement Salaries

According to 2018 data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual, median salary for law enforcement officers in Kansas is $46,170. The top 10% earn an average salary of $70,250.

The following salary data, sourced directly from the respective police departments and sheriff’s offices, reveals starting salaries for sheriff’s deputies and police officers for some of the largest agencies in Kansas. In some instances, additional information was also available, including increases that come with experience and promotions.

Police Officer Salaries

Police officers throughout Kansas’ largest police departments earn a similar starting salary in the low- to mid-$40,000. The highest paying department for new officers is the Wichita Police Department, which pays a starting salary of $48,921.

  • Kansas City Police Department

The starting salary for Kansas City police officers is $45,319. After two years, the salary for these law enforcement professionals increases to $57,853. The top base salary for officers of the Kansas City Police Department is $79,198, although a variety of salary incentives, including specialty pay and educational incentives, may increase an officer’s pay substantially.

For example, officers may earn a monthly college incentive of $50 to $155, depending on their level of education, and a monthly specialty assignment pay of $30-$250 depending on their specialty role.

  • Olathe Police Department

The Olathe Police Department pays its police officers a starting salary of $44,750, with a top-out pay of $76,100 after 11 years of service. Bilingual officers, including those who are fluent in American Sign Language, earn an annual stipend of $1,200.

  • Overland Park Police Department

New hires with the Overland Park Police Department earn a starting salary of $44,592 at Step 1. Being promoted to Step 2 comes with a raise to $46,728. The top step on the salary schedule, Step 13, comes with a salary of $78,072, although promotion to the rank of sergeant includes an even higher salary range of $60,816-$88,344.

  • Topeka Police Department

The starting salary for police officers with the Topeka Police Department is $40,435. After 18 months of service, officer salaries are increased to $42,078, with additional salary increases earned after each successful year of service. The top salary for these law enforcement professionals is achieved after 18 years, with a salary of $74,360.

  • Wichita Police Department

Recruits with the Wichita Police Department earn a salary of $46,716. At the conclusion of training, new officers here earn a starting salary of $48,921. The top pay for these law enforcement professionals is $69,305, although additional salary increases can be expected for achieving more advanced positions like detective and sergeant.

Sheriff’s Deputy Salaries

The average, starting salary among Kansas’ largest sheriff’s departments is $44,470, which is similar to their police officer colleagues working in the state’s municipal police departments.

  • Johnson County Sheriff’s Office

The deputy sheriffs of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office earn a starting salary of $44,720 and a maximum salary of $74,048. Promotions to sergeant, lieutenant, captain, and major come with higher salaries that range from $62,400 to $146,000.

  • Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office

Law enforcement deputies with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office earn a starting salary of $45,010 and a top pay of $69,825. Higher ranking positions here come with even higher salaries. For example, detectives earn $52,104 to $76,982 and sergeants earn a salary of $57,445 to $84,873.

  • Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office

The starting pay for entry-level deputies with the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office is $43,680. Additional pay for bilingual officers is also available.

State Trooper and State Police Salaries

The troopers of the Kansas Highway Patrol earn $37,980 during academy training. Upon graduation, entry-level troopers enjoy a salary bump to $42,806. After three years of experience, the salary for these law enforcement professionals increases again to $46,092.

After five years of experience, advancement to master/technical trooper is available. This promotion comes with a salary increase to $53,414. The top salary for these state-level law enforcement professionals is $71,593.

 

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_ks.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.

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