The New Challenge of Recruiting and Retaining Police Officers
The perception of police officers has been controversial recently, but more importantly, a new challenge is arising. Recruiting and retaining police officers has grown to be a big challenge among law enforcement. Why? Law enforcement is becoming less of a desirable career choice due to diminishing pay and benefits, the physical and emotional toll of the job, and of course the negative light that has been cast on police by the media over the past decade.
Let’s dive deeper into the many challenges that law enforcement agencies are facing regarding recruiting and retaining police officers.
Challenges of Recruiting and Retaining Police Officers
There are a few challenges that are making it difficult for agencies to recruit and retain new officers. As the baby boomer generation has begun to retire, police stations are beginning to feel the effects. With so many police officers retiring, a lot of these stations are being left understaffed. Understaffed police departments may mean longer shifts for current police officers, which can result in fatigue or a lack of judgment in certain situations. Over time, this could become dangerous for both police officers and the communities they’re serving.
The risks of the job have also risen which is discouraging new recruits from wanting to join. According to the Pew Research Center, 42% of police officers reported that they nearly always or often have serious concerns about their safety. Recruiting and retaining police officers that are nearly always or often afraid for their safety can be quite challenging for these departments and agencies.
Convincing a person to risk their life each day in order to keep their communities safe is very difficult – this, combined with the diminishing pay that police officers are being offered, is making the recruitment and retention process even more challenging.
A Modern Approach to Recruiting and Retaining
As the millennial generation is entering the workforce, law enforcement agencies are having to modernize how they communicate with and attract new recruits.
One approach many departments are using to reach new recruits is through social media. Social media has become one of the best ways to advertise and network practically anything and everything. Highlighting achievements and positive aspects of each agency via social media platforms can boost the likelihood that millennial recruits will want to join the police force.
Diversity is another practice that police agencies are getting better at implementing into their recruitment processes. Each police officer is a reflection of their community. Because each community is unique and diverse, it is important to recruit officers that reflect the diversity of the communities being served. This creates and encourages a more diverse department and increases the relationship between the department and the community, thus attracting more potential recruits to the department directly from the community.
As technology has become innovative and extraordinary, it is within each agency’s best interest to invest in new technology as it becomes available. Having state-of-the-art technology will ensure safety, peace of mind, and interest within the workforce, thus helping police officers have more reason to stay with the job.
While the recruitment and retention of police officers has become more challenging for agencies across the country, there is certainly hope. Providing awareness to communities so that they can recognize and address these challenges will help them implement a different approach to the recruitment and training process within the police force.
The career of being a police officer may be trying at times, but more often than not it’s rewarding. Read about the Best Reasons to Become a Cop.