Recruiting and Retaining America's Finest: Evidence-Based Lessons for Police Workforce Planning

Recruiting and Retaining America's Finest: Evidence-Based Lessons for Police Workforce Planning

Recruiting and Retaining America's Finest: Evidence-Based Lessons for Police Workforce Planning

Recruiting and Retaining America's Finest: Evidence-Based Lessons for Police Workforce Planning

Synopsis

Shares results of a survey, sent to every U.S. police agency with at least 300 sworn officers, on recruitment and retention practices. Finds that police compensation, city size, and crime rates affected recruiting. Advertising and incentives had little effect on the number of recruits. Cohort sizes highlighted management challenges. To facilitate comparative and longitudinal staffing analyses, ongoing national data collection is recommended.

Excerpt

A critical but oft neglected function of police organizations is management of the sworn officer force. While there is much attention to recruiting and retention, these are just tools for moving and maintaining career profiles that meet the needs and aspirations of officers and provide the rank/experience profiles desired by police departments. Police decisionmakers have little ability to assess their organization and environment to develop their own evidence-based personnel planning lessons. Likewise, they receive little empirical guidance on how best to build and maintain their workforce.

Recent economic difficulties have catapulted the issue of police staffing into the forefront of national discussion. the cops Hiring Program, with $1 billion in congressional funding to help stabilize law enforcement positions, received requests totaling $8.3 billion to support more than 39,000 sworn officer positions (COPS Office, 2009). Those familiar with police staffing contend that larger systemic trends continue to make it challenging to staff police organizations with qualified, diverse, and effective personnel.

Some may contend that recent recessionary times, and resulting high unemployment, have solved the staffing problem by overrunning agencies with applications. But the problem is not so simple. First, the systemic issues and trends, including those in qualifications, generational preferences, and attrition, affecting police recruitment and retention transcend economic conditions—and are likely to be exacerbated when economic conditions improve. Second, agencies overwhelmed by applications must still determine which and how many applicants to . . .

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