Recruitment and retention of officers is an increasing challenge for police agencies in a time of increasing crime and homeland security demands and of decreasing resources in American cities. Many urban police agencies report particular difficulty in recruiting minority and female officers. To help address these challenges, the RAND Center on Quality Policing convened a National Summit on Police Recruitment and Retention in the Contemporary Urban Environment in June 2008. Speakers discussed changing police workforce issues, strategies being employed, lessons that could be learned from other organizations such as the military, and in-depth analyses of police recruiting and retention in selected cities. This report summarizes the presentations, discussions, and opinions offered by panelists at the summit. The discussions about current experiences represent the situation the law enforcement agencies found themselves in as of June 2008. The downturn in the economy in late 2008 and early 2009 has had a profound impact on the budgets of many local agencies, causing cuts deep enough to impede their ability to maintain their current workforces, let alone grow them. Nevertheless, the lessons provided in this report are still of value, because most of the challenges discussed at the summit remain and will likely become more important over time, irrespective of fluctuations in the economy.
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The Changing Context of Police Recruitment and Retention