RAND Center on Quality Policing


Volume 4, Issue 2, 2011

Research, news, and commentary from the RAND Center on Quality Policing

In This Issue:

How Can Law Enforcement Agencies Improve Police Recruiting and Retention?

police officers seated at a desk

Maintaining police workforce levels is a critical law enforcement challenge. The supply of interested, fit, and qualified men and women has shrunk over the past decade, while the demand for that same labor pool and the responsibilities of law enforcement have increased. These difficulties contribute to the challenges many agencies report in creating a workforce that represents the demographics of their communities, is committed to providing employees the opportunity for long-term police careers, and effectively implements community-oriented policing.

To help law enforcement agencies better understand how to manage their personnel to improve recruiting and retention, the RAND Center on Quality Policing conducted three studies that approach the problem from different perspectives. In one study, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office in the Department of Justice provided support to compile information on promising practices to maintain diverse, effective workforce levels, drawing on the policing literature and literatures in the military, medicine, education, business, and other professions. The study found that agencies can (1) better understand their prospects for attracting and keeping officers by conducting planning, analysis (including analysis of demographic trends), and surveys and interviews with officers about job satisfaction; (2) reduce turnover by offering realistic job previews or, although the results are mixed, requiring service contracts; (3) attract and retain candidates by enhancing compensation and other benefits; and (4) increase retention through greater employee engagement, including efforts to increase employee input in decisionmaking and other evaluation and feedback opportunities.

In a second study, the National Institute of Justice supported RAND in conducting a national survey of every U.S. police agency with at least 300 sworn officers on their practices in recruitment and retention and in developing a data-driven workforce profile. Study findings include that police compensation, city size, and crime rates had statistically significant effects on police recruiting. Advertising and recruiting incentives had little effect on the number of recruits. Some top-heavy departments with a large number of personnel in their senior ranks highlighted current and future personnel management challenges.

In a third study, COPS asked RAND to conduct a national survey of recent police officer and sheriffs deputy recruits to help the law enforcement community learn about the next generation of new recruits as a way to improve recruitment. The responses suggested some recommendations for departments as they develop recruiting strategies: (1) target the perceptions of would-be recruits and the people who influence them, (2) recognize the value of both financial and nonfinancial motivators, (3) fully engage current officers and staff in agency recruiting efforts, (4) expand the agencys Internet presence, (5) develop strategies to recruit a workforce that is well-suited to community-oriented policing, and (6) continue to learn from new recruits.

Read the Reports

Evidence-Based Lessons for Police Workforce Planning
Police Recruitment and Retention for the New Millennium
Insights from Todays Police and Sheriff Recruits

How Have State and Local Authorities Responded in Enforcing Immigration Law?

handcuffed latina in jail

The recent focus on immigration legislation reform has generated heated debate. Some argue that the federal government is neglecting its immigration enforcement responsibilities while others assert it is unrealistic to expect federal law enforcement alone to solve the immigration problem. One possible response is to encourage partnerships among federal immigration agencies and state and local law-enforcement agencies.

A RAND Center on Quality Policing paper provides an overview of the federal laws that address the problem of unauthorized immigration and highlights emerging state and local responses to immigration issues. It finds that encouraging state and local law-enforcement agencies to help enforce federal immigration laws could help identify out-of-status immigrants eligible for deportation but may have unintended consequences. The paper also suggests areas for further research to add evidence to the largely anecdotal information that characterizes the heated discussion of comprehensive immigration reform.

Enforcing Immigration Law at the State and Local Levels: A Public Policy Dilemma

About CQP

The RAND Center on Quality Policing (CQP) provides research and analysis on contemporary police practice and policy. By determining what practices are most cost-effective and results-oriented, the Center's work helps law enforcement agencies across the United States make better operational decisions and consistently perform at their best.

Research done at the Center focuses on four interrelated areas—best practices, performance measurement, use of technology, and force planning—to deliver results that help departments solve these and other problems.

The Center is part of the Safety and Justice Program within RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment.

Learn More »

Current Projects

CQP is currently working on a variety of projects, including:

  • A Proactive Approach to Reducing the Incidence of Police Misconduct, Real and Perceived in Chicago
  • A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Cold Case Units
  • Development of Senior Police Leadership
  • Evaluation of Drug Market Interventions
  • Evaluation of Technology Investment at the Dallas PD
  • Evaluation of Predictive Policing Initiatives
  • Identifying International Best Practices for Policing
  • A Field Test of Police Performance Metrics
  • Impact of 9/11 on Police

Contact Information

For information about working with the CQP, send email to CQP@rand.org.

We also welcome support from industry, foundations, and individuals.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve
policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis.

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