Law Enforcement leaders can agree that attracting talented officers in 2022 has proved challenging to say the least. According to the Police Executive Research Forum “Overall hiring is down by 5 percent in the last three years, resignations are up by 18 percent, and retirements have shown a 45 percent increase”. Many of our agencies are dealing with the aftermath of mass retirements and community pushes toward Police Reform. When asked about the current climate in Law Enforcement, Captain Brendan Laflamme (Hollis NH PD) agreed saying “Recruitment and Retention is a problem no matter what size agency you’re talking about.We went through a brutal period of time where we couldn’t retain people and the hiring pool is just getting smaller every day. For whatever reason people are not applying the way they used to”.
In order to effectively attract this current generation of talent, we must first acknowledge that their needs and values are not the same as the previous generation before them. Approaching with the understanding that these applicants require more intrinsic and extrinsic incentives from their career paths will allow for a more positive recruitment process both ways.
Recruiting in the 21st century requires complete transparency.The views on policing has changed in the eyes of our community with recent research revealing that the percentage of people who consider officers trustworthy has decreased significantly. We must be mindful of how this affects the recruitment process by extension. Transparency within our community is an important step towards rebuilding this trust and presenting policing as a viable career option.“It’s going to be centered around our culture and rebranding ourselves with the public to talk about not only the things we do in community policing but the importance of establishing procedural justice throughout law enforcement agencies” Chief Thedrick Andres (Henderson NV PD) explains. Developing a more collaborative partnership between officers and residents helps change the perception of law enforcement careers and improves its reputation in communities.
2. Community Cultivation
The existing relationship the agency maintains within the community also heavily impacts recruitment results. Agencies that develop good working relationships with every segment of their community are able to in turn rely on them to help identify great candidates. Consistently engaging minority organizations, community leaders and younger members in the community are the ideal environments to cultivate quality applicants who represent the community.
3. Streamline the process
We all know the feeling. We submit an application in hopes of working with the company then the waiting game begins. Some companies have candidates in this waiting game for months during the hiring process which is usually off putting for top talent and encourages them to seek other jobs. Agencies are no different. Let’s be proactive and ensure applicants are aware of what the process entails and when they should expect follow-up. Having a dedicated recruiting team, utilizing online applications and implementing smart technology like the use of video exams has been proven to reduce the recruiting and processing time. These strategies communicate to the candidate that you value their time and will keep them interested in the position at your agency.
4. Healthy Work Life Balance
For the previous generation of officers, overtime was seen as a desirable way to boost take-home pay. After experiencing the negative effects this had on their parents coupled with the COVID19 shutdowns, the younger generations have developed a strong desire for a healthy work life balance. PWC’s recent study confirms this sentiment concluding that work-life balance is important for 95% of Millennials.With this in mind, allowing for some flexibility in scheduling and promoting officer wellness goes a long way. Agencies that place a greater emphasis on appealing to these needs signal to candidates that they are able to both effectively serve their communities without sacrificing their personal life outside the agency.
5. Recruitment from within
When seeking top talent, existing officers should be our first resource. Not only are they your most effective ambassadors but they themselves have the advantage of knowing the ins and outs of your agency and are able to hit the ground running. Cultivating the knowledge and skill set of your existing officers through collaborative leadership tracks will make them a natural choice when recruiting since they have been nurturing their skills all along.These actions also send a louder message to applicants that the agency is committed to opportunities for career advancement.
In order to improve the law enforcement recruitment climate, it is imperative that agencies start to think outside of the box and find creative ways to attract qualified individuals into the profession. Not only must we approach things in a different way than we have in the past, but we must also be willing to listen to the needs of the younger generation with the aim of understanding how agencies can constantly improve.
- COPS Doj.gov (2019) Ten Recruiting Tips for finding good officers. 12 (8)
- IACP. February 2022 Issue Police Chief
- Sánchez-Hernández, M. I., González-López, Ó. R., Buenadicha-Mateos, M., & Tato-Jiménez, J. L. (2019).Work-Life Balance in Great Companies and Pending Issues for Engaging New Generations at Work. International journal of environmental research and public health
- Jeremy M. Wilson, Clifford A. Grammich.Police Recruitment and Retention in the Contemporary Urban Environment A National Discussion of Personnel Experiences and Promising Practices from the Front Lines.
- Karl Schuster.New Recruitment Tactics for Law Enforcement.Benchmark Analytics
- NRC.How Black and White Americans See Law Enforcement Differently
- Police1. Struggling to recruit and retain officers? Find out how these police leaders are turning the tide
- PWC. Millennials at work Reshaping the workplace
- Utility,Inc. (2022) Cultivating an Engaged Team-Recruitment and Retention Police1 Partner Webinar
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