Law Enforcement Careers in Rhode Island

Although small in size, Rhode Island is the second most densely populated state in the US. Where there are a lot of people packed together like that, there’s a lot of potential for conflict, and peace officers are the ones required to sort it out. Law enforcement jobs here can be found with the Rhode Island State Police Force or municipal police departments throughout the state.

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Jobs with the Rhode Island State Police

The Rhode Island State Police Force was established in 1925. It has a tradition of excellence and was awarded “Accreditation with Excellence” by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) in 2011.

In addition to improving the safety of drivers on the more than 5000 miles of roads in the state, the Rhode Island State Police Force is involved in an array of crime-fighting activities. In addition to its Major Crimes/Organized Crimes Unit, it has specialized units for financial crime and computer crimes.

Part of the challenge of being a state trooper in Rhode Island is fighting the importation of drugs into the state. Route 95 is a major smuggling route for drugs on the Eastern part of the US and links Rhode Island with New York City and Boston. The Heroin Highway, as the DEA has dubbed the corridor, has turned up multi-million dollar busts of fentanyl and heroin traffickers in recent years.

State troopers in Rhode Island must be 18-35 years old and be either a high school graduate or hold a GED. Applicants must pass a written examination and a physical fitness test in order to be considered for enrollment into the 22 week long recruit training program.

Jobs with the Rhode Island Division of Sheriffs

Rhode Island is one of only two states with a statewide sheriff’s office. The Division of Sheriffs provides court security and other correctional and judicial law enforcement duties. The role is not directly engaged in traditional patrol or investigative functions, and deputies don’t carry weapons inside court buildings.

Rhode Island residents who wish to obtain a job as a sheriff’s deputy must be accepted into the Rhode Island Sheriff’s Academy. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, or GED, and have one additional qualification such as having an associate degree, two years of active or four years of reserve duty, or having been employed for two or more years at another law enforcement agency.

Successful applicants will undergo 30 days of training, which is unpaid.

Jobs with Municipal Police Departments in Rhode Island

Rhode Island often seems like a conglomeration of townships, villages, and cities, which makes for plenty of opportunities for municipal law enforcement positions anywhere in the state.

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Cranston has a relatively low crime rate for a city of its size. Police officers of the Cranston Police Department practice community policing to help keep its citizens safe. Candidates for police officer positions in Cranston will undergo both written and physical agility testing.


The rate for both property and violent crimes is higher than average in Pawtucket. To combat this, the Pawtucket Police Department works with the community to help prevent crime. Police officers in Pawtucket must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma. They must have either 30 college credits or a year of active military service. Applicants will have to pass physical fitness and written exams.


The largest city in the state, Providence also has a high rate of crime. Standing against this trend, Providence has the services of one of the oldest police departments in the country. Police officers in Providence must be at least 21 years old when they graduate from the Training Academy. Applicants must also have a high school diploma or a GED. To be considered for training as a police officer in Providence, applicants must pass written, physical, and medical examinations, along with a background check and a psychological evaluation.


The crime rate in Warwick is relatively high for the city’s size. Combatting it involves a high level of community involvement by the roughly 172 members of the Warwick Police Department. Police officer candidates in Warwick must take written and physical exams. Those who make it through the screening process will be placed on a hiring list and become eligible for positions as they become available.

Rhode Island Law Enforcement Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Rhode Island’s law enforcement officers earned an average salary of $68,580 as of May 2021.

The following police/sheriff’s department salary data was sourced from May 2021 BLS stats (early career = 25th percentile, senior/late career = 90th percentile).

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Police Officer Salaries

Providence has one of the higher crime rates in the state and one of the larger populations to manage, so it’s not surprising that the top-end salary in the department comes in over six figures. At lower ranks, however, many state police departments are competitive in salary.

Providence Police Department

  • Entry – $61,970
  • Mid-Level – $65,020
  • Senior – $83,080

State Trooper and State Police Salaries

Rhode Island state troopers start off at a relatively higher rate of pay than most law enforcement officers in the state, and the progression to higher grades of pay comes quickly—within four years, assuming no disciplinary action or performance issues.

Rhode Island State Police

  • Entry – $62,010
  • Senior – $81,640

2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for police and sheriff’s patrol officers. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, Projections Central. Figures are based on state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed August 2022.

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