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In-depth: Comparing Utah police pay in context

Posted at 6:29 PM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 20:29:58-04

When Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced a 30 percent bump in starting pay and 12 percent for senior officers in the city's police department, she made a significant dent in a what appears to be a statewide reality of low pay for law enforcement.

In Salt Lake City, the current starting wage is about $21 an hour. With the new increase, that goes up to $26. That's an annual change from under $44,000 a year to over $54,000 a year.

Senior officers get a 12 percent increase, going from an average $35 per hour to $39, or from about $73,000 to over $81,000 a year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps data on wages in all industries. They report police in the Salt Lake Valley make a median just over $30 an hour.

Here's a comparison across the state:

Compared nationally, Utah's officer pay is lower than average. With a statewide median wage of $27.52, that's 31st of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The Salt Lake metro area is one of five with over a million residents in the Mountain Region, and its median police pay is fourth of the five, with Tucson fifth and Denver first.

Account for the cost to live in Salt Lake, and Tucson police may have an advantage. Treat these numbers like percentages. 100 is the national average. Above that, you're paying more.