Census of Youth Law Enforcement Experience Programs

A female police officer smiles as she walks with two young teenage boys. Photo by kali9 / Getty Images

Photo by kali9 / Getty Images

Project Overview

Law enforcement agencies (LEAs) face a number of recruitment challenges in attracting talented law enforcement candidates who represent a diversity of backgrounds and experiences. While there have been studies on the effectiveness of different officer recruitment strategies, few have focused on the promise of youth experience programs. The objective of the Census of Youth Law Enforcement Experience Programs is to increase the capacity of LEAs to implement innovative youth programs that introduce and promote careers in law enforcement.

With funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), RAND is partnering with the Law and Public Safety Education Network (LAPSEN) and a technical advisory group to conduct a census of youth law enforcement experience programs and practices, identify promising programs and practices, and develop resources—including a census database, a toolkit with detailed implementation guides, and a project website—to support LEA implementation of promising programs or refine their youth recruitment practices to create a recruitment pipeline. The census of youth law enforcement experience programs will focus on both non-school programs (e.g., internship-type programs, explorer-type programs, youth camps/academies) and in- school, career programs (e.g., stand-alone high schools, law enforcement career academies, career and technical education programs, pipeline programs). LAPSEN will also create a training and technical assistance team to support LEA implementation nationally during and after project completion. Our marketing plan will ensure that the deliverables and knowledge this project creates are disseminated broadly to LEAs and youth experience programs.

Read article in Dispatch: Law Enforcement Recruitment Strategies: Reaching Out to Youth

About the Project Team

This project is being led by an experienced interdisciplinary team of researchers from RAND and LAPSEN. Lois Davis, Ph.D. and Dana Schultz, MPP, the RAND principal investigators, are leading this project. Joe Coffee, Ph.D., Director, LAPSEN is also supporting the project. Through independent research and analysis, the non-profit, non-partisan RAND Corporation develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier, and more prosperous. LAPSEN, a non-profit, multi-state consortium, provides technical assistance and training to school systems, law enforcement agencies and other local organizations interested in school reform, community development, reducing juvenile delinquency and increasing the quality and diversity of the public safety and security workforce.

For more information about the project, please contact us at Census.LE.Youth.Programs@RAND.org.

This project is supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number 2020CKWXK048 awarded to RAND Corporation by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific individuals, agencies, companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement by the author(s), contributor(s), or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues.