We’ve all seen the headlines. And perhaps for some, it’s more than a headline — but rather a living reality. Across the U.S., law enforcement agencies big and small have been experiencing a shortage of officers to meet the demands of the cities and towns they so diligently serve. There are several reasons why, but a few stand out as critical factors.
First, the economy. The U.S. has been experiencing a strong jobs market for the last several years — and indicators show that trend continuing in the near-term. That means more jobs in the marketplace for potential recruits to choose from. And not just any job — but on average higher-paying jobs with more perks and benefits, including a healthier work/life balance.
Second, for many considering a career in law enforcement, there are very real challenges to think about. There always have been and always will be. But in today’s technology-in-hand, media-saturated environment, those challenges can amplify and skew the honor and dignity of the profession, leaving potential recruits to choose other options.
But what if you could balance your recruitment issues with a strong retention strategy? Here are a few things to consider when mapping out your recruitment and hiring plan — as well as your overall police force management approach.
1) Be sure your workforce system is capturing all your officer performance data in a timely and efficient manner. Are you going through the time and expense of relying on multiple partners for this information? And even then, are you getting ALL the information you really need . . . or are you only getting a partial, incomplete view?
2) Your answers to the above questions will impact your nimbleness to intervene as early as possible when potential signs of problematic behavior are seen. Further, are you relying on simple triggers . . . or are you taking into account context, patterns of behavior and overall history? Your early intervention system should enable you to think and act preventatively vs. reactively.
3) Once an intervention need is identified, make sure you have a system in place that facilitates thoughtful, systematic and transparent actions, so that you – as well as your officers – have a clear understanding of what the appropriate course for correction is.
These three simple self-assessment strategies can help you minimize attrition and turnover with your current workforce as well as those new recruits you’ll continue to hire in the months and years ahead — shortage or not.For insight into our unique all-in-one police force management and early intervention system, click here.