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Many police departments face ongoing challenges in recruiting and retaining police officers. Heightened concern about terrorist attacks has exacerbated this problem by increasing demands on local law enforcement agencies. To address this problem, the authors, drawing on RAND’s extensive work in military personnel management, identify key lessons that could help develop a force management plan for police agencies focusing on future demand for police personnel and creative sources of supply. This analysis considers changing demands for police services; labor pool qualifications; and possible national and regional efforts to adapt military recruitment strategies for police agencies. The Long Beach Police Department, a metropolitan police department struggling with officer recruitment and retention in the face of increased security-related demands, serves as a case study example offering informative background data about these issues.

The research described in this report results from the RAND Corporation’s continuing program of self-initiated research. Support for such research is provided, in part, by donors and by the independent research and development provisions of RAND’s contracts for the operation of its U.S. Department of Defense federally funded research and development centers.

This report is part of the RAND occasional paper series. RAND occasional papers may include an informed perspective on a timely policy issue, a discussion of new research methodologies, essays, a paper presented at a conference, or a summary of work in progress. All RAND occasional papers undergo rigorous peer review to help ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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