3 Tips for Navigating Today’s Officer Shortage

The news on officer shortages across the country just keep on coming. Departments from coast to coast are experiencing a deficiency of qualified candidates to fill an increasing number of open police officer positions. Here are three tactics to employ as you turn to a job market that’s underserving your current needs.

1) Look for two fundamental qualities

We recently asked Chuck Ramsey, Co-Chair of the President’s 2014 Task Force on 21st Century Policing as well as Benchmark Founding Board Member, what it takes to thrive as a police officer. He boiled it down to two fundamental yet critical qualities. The first—you need to have a service mentality. Makes sense, since we’d all be hard-pressed to identify a career that is more focused on the well-being of its fellow citizens and the community as a whole. Every day as a police officer is a commitment to the choice they made and pledge they took to protect and serve.

police-officer-shortageThe second quality Ramsey identified is resiliency. Policing is a profession that comes with inherent risks, challenges and obstacles. Some you can train for and some are completely unforeseen and unimaginable. As an officer, it’s critical to be able to bounce back or recover from the trauma . . . from the crises . . . from the extreme and unsettling situations that they’ll be exposed to while carrying out their responsibilities as police officers.

2) Get Creative in your recruitment strategies

Many agencies across the U.S. are taking creative measures to attracting the best possible recruits for their open positions. Take San Diego, for example, where the city is in the planning stages of offering home-buying incentives to officers, where they could receive as much as $50,000 toward a down payment or closing costs when they buy a home and agree to join or stay on the force.

Or in Kansas City, MO, where the police force is enlisting the help of community organizations to recruit more women and minority candidates through targeted recruitment events. They’re also creating one of the first recruitment centers in the nation that connects high schoolers to careers in law enforcement. And, they’re reaching out to colleges across the country by connecting current officers with their alma maters.

Other agencies are turning to tactics typically utilized by more traditional business enterprises. For example, some larger agencies in Maine are offering signing bonuses as high as $10,000, as well as matching vacation or sick time that recruits may have had accrued at previous positions. And in Cleveland, they’re turning to social media with video appeals to consider a career in law enforcement with the Cleveland PD.

3) Have a strong retention game plan in place

A strong retention strategy can be the smartest and most effective approach for navigating the ups and downs of a labor market that is so often driven by factors and influences beyond your control. Consider a police force management solution that can aggregate performance data, analyze it for early intervention and then provide proactive, customized support. The more efficient you become at retaining your current workforce, the less you’ll need to tap into a recruitment pool that’s high in demand and low on qualified talent.

Click here for more information on how a robust retention strategy can minimize attrition and diminish the need to compete in today’s job market.