CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Articulating the dynamic police staffing challenge: an examination of supply and demand
Article Type: Perspectives on policing From: Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, Volume 37, Issue 1.
Jeremy M. Wilson
In this study, the author examines police recruitment and retention and the effect that changing conditions may have on these two major administrative challenges. Although prior research has looked into these challenges, few empirical lessons pertaining to what works in recruitment and retention have been offered to assist law enforcement organizations. The demand for more police officers is argued to be positively correlated with the increased roles expected of the officer. The author additionally proposes that the demand for new officers will increase as agencies experience employee turnover. The purpose of this study is to develop practical steps organizations can take to alleviate the issues of police recruitment and retention.
The data for this study was gathered through an analysis of in excess of 150 research reports, articles, etc. examining the topics of recruiting and retaining police officers. The author utilized the RAND Recruitment and Retention Clearinghouse (RAND, 2011) to compile the various sources of information for this project.
Numerous factors were found to impact the recruitment and retention of police officers. Some of these factors were internal to the organization such as budgets and organizational environment while others were identified as being external (i.e. generational differences, competition from other agencies, emerging crimes, the economy, etc.). The author argues that even when an agency is operating with its full complement of officers, the organization can still be understaffed when presented with these internal and external factors. This supports the positive correlation between role expansion and the need for more officers. In light of this, the study implies that officer attrition is likely to increase, sources of new recruits will probably decrease, and officer responsibilities will continue to expand.
Agencies must anticipate the challenges noted in this study and likewise develop an action plan in preparation of when these issues are encountered. It is noted that each agency must empirically evaluate their own organization to determine their staffing needs based on qualitative and quantitative data. To increase the sources of new recruits, the author proposes changes in the selection process such as the relaxation of age, residency, and education requirements in addition to being more tolerant to recruits with a history of experimental drug use, bad credit histories, and minor arrest records. It is also proposed to revamp the procedures related to employee screening, hiring, etc. to keep the recruit more engaged in the process in an attempt to increase the efficiency of the hiring process. Lastly, it is suggested that agencies should better understand when it is more advantageous to retain an employee as opposed to electing to undergo the recruitment process.