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Police Officer Recruitment: A Public-Sector Crisis

gdgyva

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Vacancies
By estimation, more than 80 percent of the nation's 17,000 law enforcement agencies, large and small, have police officer positions that they cannot fill. Jim Hyde, police chief in Davis, California, reports approximately 9,000 police officer vacancies in California as of June 2006.1 However, only 2,500 officers graduated from California police academies in 2005. Nationwide projections estimate that between 2002 and 2012 the United States will need 37,700 new police officers, in addition to the 30,300 positions needed to replace retirees and other persons leaving employment.2 A survey conducted under the auspices of the California Chiefs of Police Association consistently ranked recruitment and selection among the top two issues facing law enforcement in the next five years, regardless of agency size.3

Another example of the fallout in filling positions is President Bush's recent request that Congress authorize an additional 6,000 Border Patrol agents. On average, the Department of Homeland Security would need approximately 240,000 applicants to fill the positions, since only one person is appointed for every 40 individuals who apply for the position.4

This severe shortage of workers was caused by the fact that a workforce of 80 million baby boomers (persons born between 1946 and 1964) is being replaced by a workforce of 30 million-a shortfall of 50 million individuals.5 Nationally, by 2010 there will be a labor shortage of 10 million workers as the demand for employees exceeds the supply.6

The listings of vacant peace officer positions in Table 1 delineates the recruitment dilemma encountered by many agencies throughout the country. Because the screening process is stringent, over 90 percent of the applicants are rejected during the selection process. Wayne Tucker, the police chief in Oakland, California, reports that "as few as 5 percent of the applicants pass the background check and psychological and physical exams required to be an officer."20 Even after appointment, it is not unusual to lose 25 percent or more of the persons appointed during the rigorous training at the police academy.

Recruitment Efforts and Incentives
Federal, state, and local government agencies compete against one another to fill law enforcement positions. Since fewer than 5 percent of the applicants qualify for appointments, employers are reaching out and using different types of incentives to attract individuals.

The City of San Jose, California, recently sent a recruiting unit to Honolulu, Hawaii, to obtain police officer applicants.21 In turn, the Honolulu Police Department-the 12th largest in the country with 2000 sworn positions-has sent recruiters to San Diego, California, and Portland, Oregon, seeking persons interested in careers in law enforcement. The Phoenix, Arizona, Police Department-with almost 3000 sworn positions-budgeted $300,000 to expand its pool of applicants by recruiting in the Los Angeles metropolitan area for 500 vacant positions.22

Agencies are trying various incentives to attract applicants. Texas law enforcement agencies need law enforcement officers so badly that Dallas, Austin, and Houston are in the midst of a bidding war to hire veteran officers, with Houston recently upping its bonus to $7,000.23 Dallas, countering the Houston bonus, increased its bonus to $10,000.24 The San Diego, California, County Sheriff's Department has offered a $500 bounty to county employees who find applicants who become deputies. It also provides a signing bonus of $5000 to lateral hires-law enforcement officers transferring from another agency.25 The Oregon Army National Guard is offering bonuses of up to $20,000 for military police positions.26

Other incentives include the following:

Phoenix, Arizona-assistance with a down payment when purchasing a home27

King County, Washington-40 hours of vacation time for any deputy who recruits an individual who becomes an officer28

Los Angeles, California-a retirement payment of $250,000 in addition to a pension after 20 years of employment29

Lexington, Kentucky-up to $7,400 for a down payment on a home in an area designated for redevelopment30


Police Chief Magazine - View Article

it is a crisis facing nearly every city, county, and state. Far too few patrolling far too many....with not enough training.

and the results are scared officers doing stupid things.....

and it is only going to get worse

would you want your son or daughter at 20 years old to put on a badge today?

:(
 

dimensionallava

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the article is from 10 years ago
 

EMNofSeattle

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If they have forty applicants per position they do not have a staffing crisis, they have a crisis of their preferred applicants, but they have enough applicants to fill positions
 

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Chomsky

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I think we need more current data to make an informed decision ...
 

gdgyva

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this is from TWO years ago

is this current enough?

With the number of applicants down more than 90 percent in some cities, police departments may soon be posting more signs that say “Help Wanted” instead of “Most Wanted.”

From the nation’s largest police force in New York City to tiny departments with only five officers, far fewer people are looking to join the force than in years past, and departments of all sizes are being forced to rethink how they fill their ranks.

While public safety departments face some of the same problems other employers do with U.S. unemployment at a 30-year low, police recruiters are additionally stymied by the job’s low pay, tarnished image, increasingly tougher standards for new recruits and limited job flexibility.

“You don’t move up in a police department the way you would in a dot-com,” admits Chicago Police Department recruiter Patrick Camden.

And most importantly, few jobs are more dangerous.

“You can get shot at for $40,000, or be home with your family for $60,000,” says Seattle police recruiter Jim Ritter.

Trouble From Gotham to Mayberry

Police departments in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago are all working harder at recruitment and drawing fewer applicants. But it is also the same story in smaller cities such as Leesburg, Va., where the number of applicants to the police department has dropped 90 percent over the past five years, and Reno, Nev., which reports a decline of 50 percent since 1997.

A decade ago, there were 3,000 applicants for 10 openings with the Seattle police, the department says. Now there are 1,000 applicants for 70 positions — a drop of more than 90 percent.

In Springfield, Miss., only 75 people applied for the police academy this month. But four years ago, they had 300, reports Elaine Deck, a researcher who has been studying the problem for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

In rural towns in the South, the number of people showing up to take the written police exam has often dropped 80 percent, she says.

In Fairfax County, Va., an entrance exam advertisement would draw 4,000 people five years ago. Now, it brings in 300.

Toughest in Small Cities The dearth of new officers is affecting most departments, but in many ways small forces are having the toughest time. Large departments have a greater variety of duties and shifts, which many recruits find more appealing.

In addition to offering patrol work, there may be community policing details, bike officers, school officers and other specialty positions. A small force typically has less diversification and less opportunity for advancement, Deck says.

Small departments also generally pay considerably less than big city forces. According to the IACP, the median starting salary for a new officer is $39,000; in smaller departments it is just $30,000 to $32,000.

Police Face Severe Shortage of Recruits - ABC News
 

reinoe

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this is from TWO years ago

is this current enough?

With the number of applicants down more than 90 percent in some cities, police departments may soon be posting more signs that say “Help Wanted” instead of “Most Wanted.”

From the nation’s largest police force in New York City to tiny departments with only five officers, far fewer people are looking to join the force than in years past, and departments of all sizes are being forced to rethink how they fill their ranks.

While public safety departments face some of the same problems other employers do with U.S. unemployment at a 30-year low, police recruiters are additionally stymied by the job’s low pay, tarnished image, increasingly tougher standards for new recruits and limited job flexibility.

“You don’t move up in a police department the way you would in a dot-com,” admits Chicago Police Department recruiter Patrick Camden.

And most importantly, few jobs are more dangerous.

“You can get shot at for $40,000, or be home with your family for $60,000,” says Seattle police recruiter Jim Ritter.

Trouble From Gotham to Mayberry

Police departments in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago are all working harder at recruitment and drawing fewer applicants. But it is also the same story in smaller cities such as Leesburg, Va., where the number of applicants to the police department has dropped 90 percent over the past five years, and Reno, Nev., which reports a decline of 50 percent since 1997.

A decade ago, there were 3,000 applicants for 10 openings with the Seattle police, the department says. Now there are 1,000 applicants for 70 positions — a drop of more than 90 percent.

In Springfield, Miss., only 75 people applied for the police academy this month. But four years ago, they had 300, reports Elaine Deck, a researcher who has been studying the problem for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

In rural towns in the South, the number of people showing up to take the written police exam has often dropped 80 percent, she says.

In Fairfax County, Va., an entrance exam advertisement would draw 4,000 people five years ago. Now, it brings in 300.

Toughest in Small Cities The dearth of new officers is affecting most departments, but in many ways small forces are having the toughest time. Large departments have a greater variety of duties and shifts, which many recruits find more appealing.

In addition to offering patrol work, there may be community policing details, bike officers, school officers and other specialty positions. A small force typically has less diversification and less opportunity for advancement, Deck says.

Small departments also generally pay considerably less than big city forces. According to the IACP, the median starting salary for a new officer is $39,000; in smaller departments it is just $30,000 to $32,000.

Police Face Severe Shortage of Recruits - ABC News

This is still good news. With an understaffed police force that means that they can't waste time with nonsense like Stop & Frisk, there's a cat stuck in a tree or "there's a scary Black man who's only wrongdoing is being black in my posh suburban neighborhood" other such nonsense they must instead focus on real crime. Or the police can rethink their policy of refusing to hire people who are too smart. There's no telling how many people get denied a job for scoring too high on their standardized tests.
 

Hawkeye10

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I was talking to a WA State Highway Patrol Cadet a few years ago, he said that the #1 reason people get scrubbed is that they lie about using street drugs and or taking a prescribed drug that has not been issued to them by a doctor, which is a crime.

Maybe it is time that we stopped flunking otherwise good people for that, alot of people dont even know that it is a crime to take another persons viagra.
 

reinoe

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I was talking to a WA State Highway Patrol Cadet a few years ago, he said that the #1 reason people get scrubbed is that they lie about using street drugs and or taking a prescribed drug that has not been issued to them by a doctor, which is a crime.

Maybe it is time that we stopped flunking otherwise good people for that, alot of people dont even know that it is a crime to take another persons viagra.

Especially ironic considering all the steroids that cops take and don't face any random drug testing. They don't even get drug tested when they're involved in accidental shootings. I'm surprised they even bother to ask about drugs.
 

Moon

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If they have forty applicants per position they do not have a staffing crisis, they have a crisis of their preferred applicants, but they have enough applicants to fill positions
Quantity does not overcome a deficit of quality.
 

ludin

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I could see why they have staffing issues.

low pay job, high risk, no reward, constantly being demonized by the media and press.
yeah not worth it.

promotions are hard to get etc ...
 

gdgyva

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Again....

would you want your son or daughter to be a law officer just starting out today?

no way in hell i would steer my child in that direction in this climate

and that ladies and gentlemen, is why very shortly, we are going to have a crisis on our hands

we are not going to have enough law enforcement out there for the need

and then, well i for one will be glad that i am a gun owner, and know how to use them if the need arises
 
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