Quality Policing Research on Force Planning

Background

The job of police officer comes laden with unique risks and demands. As a result, police forces have long faced special challenges in recruiting, training, deploying, promoting, and retaining quality personnel. Recent changes in the labor pool (e.g., competition with private-sector organizations for workers) and the evolving role of the police (e.g., greater need for staff who can effectively interact with diverse communities) have made police staffing even more challenging.

Across the United States, today's police departments are operating far below established staff allocation levels. They report that the lack of staff makes it increasingly difficult for them to meet their traditional obligations, much less their growing list of new responsibilities—e.g., immigration enforcement, threat assessment and other homeland security functions, and intelligence collection.

To attract candidates, many police agencies have resorted to such financial incentives as sign-on bonuses for new recruits, down-payments on the homes of new officers, or cash incentives to officers for bringing in new recruits. To retain or attract senior officers, agencies have allowed them to draw salary and retirement benefits or offered them a bonus for experience. Proper planning could reduce the need to spend scarce police dollars on these practices.

Research goals

CQP will join with local police departments to conduct studies that will help them identify and plan for the challenges of developing and maintaining a qualified work force. This research will produce important lessons about how police agencies can better cope with changes in their recruitment and operational environments.