Recruiting Former Officers

By Orrick, Dwayne | Law & Order, May 2008 | Go to article overview

Recruiting Former Officers


Orrick, Dwayne, Law & Order


Poaching employees from other employers is common practice. Every law enforcement agency periodically loses great officers who laterally transfer to another department. In other instances, people may accept a position outside law enforcement in another government position, the private sector, or to start a new business.

Today, many employees change jobs or careers several times. Some suggest that the average employee will change careers seven times over the course of his work life, hi his book "Winning the Talent Wars," Bruce Tulger notes that employers have two groups of employees. The first group consists of a group of "core" employees, who ensure continuity of operations. The second group is composed of "transient" employees, who may join, leave, and return to an agency several times. Eventually, they choose another career or start to identify with the core group and become anchored with the agency.

When people join a police department, bonds of friendship are forged that last for a lifetime. Because of this, the decision to leave a department is very emotional for departing officers. After they leave, many find the work environment or factors that were used to entice them are not what they were perceived.

Unfortunately, former employees are often ignored by law enforcement agencies as a potential recruiting pool. A number of reasons contribute to this, including pride and stubbornness. The attitude of many leaders in the past has been, "If the person doesn't want us, we don't want him." Because of this, most departments fail to keep contact with officers who have left to explore other alternative employment opportunities.

However, hiring boomerangs offer benefits for both the employer and the employee. Both know what to expect from the other. The time to bring the employee up to full speed is drastically cut when compared with a traditional recruit. The department has lower costs associated with hiring and training the person. Oftentimes, returning officers make more loyal employees and spread the word to other officers considering employment alternatives that the grass may not be as green as it is portrayed.

This is not to say that all former employees should be considered as candidates. Before trying to attract a former officer, recruiters should contact his former supervisor and co-workers to identify what kind of employee he was. …

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