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Gang unit officers track and investigate street gang activity for local and state law enforcement agencies. Salaries for gang unit officers are consistent with those of other police officers but vary by officer rank and experience. Investigators and detectives within a department's gang unit, for example, earn higher salaries than patrol officers in the unit.
Gang unit officers, depending on their specific duties, count as patrol officers or detectives and investigators under the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) occupational classification system. The bureau reported in May 2010 that police and sheriff's patrol officers, including those assigned to gang units, received an average annual salary of $55,620. Detectives and criminal investigators, meanwhile, earned an average of $73,010 per year.
Salaries for gang unit patrol officers ranged from $31,700 to $83,510 per year, according to BLS data for 2010. The median annual salary for a gang unit officer was $53,540. Detectives who investigate gang-related crime earned higher salaries, according to the bureau. Annual salaries in 2010 averaged between $38,850 and $119,320 per year. The median salary for a criminal investigator was $68,820.
Salaries by Agency
Salaries for gang unit officers and investigators vary by whether they work for state or local law enforcement agencies. Among local police agencies, whether the department is in a large city or a smaller town, affects annual earnings as well. According to the BLS, salaries for gang unit patrol officers in local agencies averaged $55,710 per year. Officers in state agencies earned slightly more, with their salaries averaging $58,200 in 2010. Among gang unit detectives and investigators, however, local officers earned more than their state-level counterparts. Detectives in local agencies earned an average of $61,930 per year, while salaries investigators in state law enforcement organizations averaged $54,340 per year in 2010, the BLS reported.
Once considered an urban phenomenon, gang activity has spread across the 50 U.S. states, with gangs of varying sizes existing in large cities, suburbs and small towns. Gang unit officer salaries vary by geographic region. The BLS reported in 2010 that the highest salaries for gang unit and other law enforcement officers existed in New Jersey, California, Illinois, Nevada and the District of Columbia. Annual salaries in these jurisdictions ranged from $65,840 in Nevada to nearly $80,000 in New Jersey.
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Shane Hall is a writer and research analyst with more than 20 years of experience. His work has appeared in "Brookings Papers on Education Policy," "Population and Development" and various Texas newspapers. Hall has a Doctor of Philosophy in political economy and is a former college instructor of economics and political science.