The problem of recruitment and retention of police officers in departments across the United States is well documented. Many law enforcement agencies have difficulty not only identifying and hiring qualified candidates but keeping them as well.
A new detailed survey Produced by the Police Executive Research Forum shows 3 main reasons for police departments: there is a decrease in applications, early exits and higher rates of retirement.
Full Survey: https://www.policeforum.org/assets/WorkforceCrisis.pdf
Fewer people are applying to become police officers, and more people are leaving the profession, often after only a few years on the job. These trends are occurring even as many police and sheriffs’ offices are already short-staffed and facing
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Agencies participating in the survey reported that there has been a 63 percent decrease in applying to become a police officer. Departments are also having trouble hiring non-white/minority applicants the most, followed by female officers, according to the survey.
With a strong economy, people entering the labor market have a greater number of choices.
“And the often-rigid, quasi-military organizational structure of most police agencies does not align with the preferences of many of today’s job applicants,” according to the survey.
The job of policing is more challenging than ever before, too. “Criminal offenders are committing new types of cyber-crime, and are using computers to commit old types of crime in new ways, so officers must understand and be comfortable with new technologies,” the survey said.
“Furthermore, today’s police officers increasingly are being asked to deal with social problems, such as untreated mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness. As a result, the skills, temperament, and life experiences needed to succeed as an officer are becoming more complex.”
The issues outlined in the survey were discussed at a national conference in December 2018 in Washington, DC. The meeting was attended by approximately 250 law enforcement leaders, recently hired police officers, researchers, and other subject matter experts.