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The Average Salary of a Small Town Police Chief

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Many small towns maintain some form of police force to supplement law enforcement teams at the state or county level. These towns rely on a police chief to maintain the budget, schedule other officers and develop effective police procedures within the area. Small town police chiefs typically earn less than their big city counterparts, though many also deal with lower crime rates and reduced bureaucracy.

Average Salary for Small Town Police Chiefs

In 2006, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania conducted a survey of hundreds of local police departments within the region. This survey revealed that the average salary for police chiefs in towns of less than 10,000 citizens ranged from $45,000 to $59,999. Roughly 34 percent of all survey respondents reported a salary within this range. Ten percent of those surveyed earned less than $30,000, while seven percent earned in excess of $75,000.

Sample Salaries For Small Town Police Chiefs

In the town of Brooksville, Mississippi, which has roughly 1,200 residents, the chief of police earns a starting salary of $35,000 as of 2011, according to the Dispatch newspaper.

In 2011, the Vermont police website advertised a position for a police chief in the town of Woodstock, which has less than 1,000 citizens. This position offered a salary of $55,000 to $65,000, depending on experience.

The Tribune reports that the police chief in Dickson City, Pennsylvania, earns $64,313 per year in a town with only 6,100 residents.

National Salary Figures

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that police chiefs in the U.S. earn an salaries ranging between $90,570 and $113,930 as of May 2008. These figures apply to all police chiefs, including those employed by large cities and metropolitan areas, as well as small towns. Deputy police chiefs earned between $74,834 and $96,209 on average during the same period.

Factors Affecting Salary

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania reports that the local budget and the candidate's level of education are the primary factors that determine salary ranges for small town police chiefs. A 2006 survey by this organization found that police chiefs in small towns earn more on average with a bachelor's degree than they do with just a high school diploma. These factors had a much greater impact than things like the candidate's level of experience, or the size of the town.


Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.

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Ken Redding/Corbis/GettyImages