Cover: Workforce Development for Big-City Law Enforcement Agencies

Workforce Development for Big-City Law Enforcement Agencies

Published May 7, 2012

by Nelson Lim, Carl F. Matthies, Kirsten M. Keller


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Research Questions

  1. How can law enforcement agencies improve the readiness of their personnel?
  2. Can a RAND methodology that has been applied by the U.S. Air Force to create an effective workforce development system to better align personnel with current and future force requirements be successfully applied by police departments and other law enforcement agencies?

The readiness of any police workforce requires careful and consistent personnel development. Specifically, the individual talent within the workforce must be managed in such a way that the skills and knowledge needed to provide effective law enforcement are recognized, appropriately utilized, and fostered. This occasional paper provides an overview of a RAND methodology for creating an effective workforce development system to better align personnel with current and future force requirements. The paper presents a conceptual framework, its major steps, and its strengths and limitations in a law enforcement context.

Key Findings

Workforce Demand Analysis Assesses What Requirements Are Needed

  • The framework from RAND's Air Force workforce development system may be helpful to police authorities committed to developing a workforce that matches current demand and is equipped for any potential future challenges.
  • RAND's recommended method utilizes a job analysis approach, which gives an expert panel the task of identifying the backgrounds required by the positions within an organization.

Workforce Supply Analysis Assesses the Assets Among the Workforce

  • An expert panel examines the present workforce and assess what background and experience the agency's workforce supplies.

Gap Analysis Identifies the Gap Between the Demand and the Supply

  • Comparing the supply and demand to verify that officers at every level in the chain of command have acquired the skills and experience necessary to fill needed positions will uncover potential problems in organizational effectiveness due to shortcomings in personnel development.

Flow Analysis Can Be Conducted to Identify Optimal Career Paths for Succession Planning and Leadership Development

  • Flow analysis can illustrate how well a virtual inventory of officers could fulfill job requirements and other objectives given ideal career paths optimizing the sequence of developmental jobs, subject to various organizational policy preferences and constraints, such as expected retention and promotion patterns.
  • Flow analysis can help streamline leadership development, mapping out the most efficient paths for gaining the essential prerequisite leadership background and experience.

This research was conducted under the auspices of the RAND Center on Quality Policing (CQP) within the Safety and Justice Program of RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment (ISE).

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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