Cover: Today's Police and Sheriff Recruits

Today's Police and Sheriff Recruits

Insights from the Newest Members of America's Law Enforcement Community

Published Oct 6, 2010

by Laura Werber, Greg Ridgeway


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For much of the last decade, police and sheriff's departments faced considerable challenges in attracting and retaining recruits, such that many departments struggled to maintain their size. Although the economic downturn has altered this situation, police and sheriff's departments should expect that the tight labor market of the past decade will return. This volume summarizes a 2008–2009 survey fielded to recent police officer and sheriff's deputy recruits nationwide. The survey asked recruits why they chose a career in law enforcement, why they chose the particular agency that they joined, what they felt were the downsides of a career in law enforcement, and what could be done to improve their department's recruiting efforts. In discussing the survey results, the authors focus on how understanding modern recruits can help departments refine their recruitment practices and develop a workforce well suited to community-oriented policing.

This project was supported the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations contained herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement of the product by the authors or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues. This project was conducted under the auspices of the RAND Center on Quality Policing (CQP), part of the Safety and Justice Program within RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment (ISE).

This report is part of the RAND monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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