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Recruiting, Selecting, and Retaining Law Enforcement Officers

Brett MeadeBy Brett Meade, Ed.D.
Deputy Chief of Police
University of Central Florida

Ask any law enforcement executive worldwide to list the most challenging internal issue facing their respective agencies, and the vast majority will mention recruiting, selecting and retaining sworn personnel.  The fact is, given the current environment of the policing profession, recruiting the next generation of police officers is more difficult than ever. With the pressures, demands, and expectations of the community, finding individuals who want to step into and stay in this uncertain and dangerous career is a daunting task.

Costs are always a concern, as the standard cost to recruit, hire, equip, and fully train a police officer from the time they submit their initial application to the time they can function independently may exceed $100,000 and take up to eighteen months. A law enforcement agency needs about three-five years of service to recoup this initial investment.

Open positions lead to increased overtime costs to fill needed shift coverage, decreased officer morale due to the inability to take time off or transfer to other units, and decreased delivery of services to the community. Turnover cannot be completely eliminated, as some officers will use an agency as a stepping stone while others realize that police work is not for them.  From a retention viewpoint, many agencies are suffering from a leadership vacuum caused by mass retirements and other turnover causes. Loss of trained officers with a few years’ experience under their belt who understand the community and are just becoming eligible for promotion is especially damaging to an agency and hinders succession planning. Read More & Share

Policing Youth Policy Briefs: Opportunities for Positive Police-Youth Interaction

Policing Youth Policy Briefs: Opportunities for Positive Police-Youth Interaction

The Police Foundation, in collaboration with the California Police Chiefs Association and the California State Sheriffs’ Association and with funding from the California Endowment, produced a series of youth-focused policy briefs to enhance law enforcement knowledge and understanding of youth development in an effort to help improve outcomes for youth and public safety.

Line level personnel from both police and sheriff’s agencies more often than not, respond to sensitive situations, such as domestic family disputes, and in some jurisdictions are called on by the school to respond to incidents on campus. With the national debate surrounding the role of law enforcement in communities and more specifically in schools, it is important to provide law enforcement leaders and line level personnel with resources focused on helping to define the role of officers, identify best practices for youth police engagement, and educate law enforcement about the science of  youth development and working with young adults, with the overall goal of enhancing trust and cooperation between police, youth, and their families.

The four policy brief series is designed for California law enforcement executives but is applicable to law enforcement nationwide. Law enforcement executives from across the country can use these briefs to inform their strategies and to best define the role of their officers in schools and communities. The first brief is an introduction that challenges law enforcement executives to develop a vision for positive police-youth interactions.

Topics of the remaining policy briefs include:

  • Teen Brain: Preparing Your Officers to Engage with Youth
  • Defining the Role of School-Based Police Officers
  • The Career Pipeline Concept

For more information, visit the Youth Policing Project page or contact:

Jennifer Zeunik
Director of Programs
(202) 833-1460

“On Policing”: Changing the Approach to Training and Community Relations

In this week’s On Policing release, Executive Director Sue Rahr (Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission) discusses the need for a culture shift in policing from a “warrior” mindset to a “guardian” mindset, and Chief Andrew Bidou offers insight into how law enforcement can build and improve positive relationships with the community.

Both essays share a common theme—law enforcement needs to take steps to bridge the growing divide between police and the communities they serve. Chief Bidou lays out concrete steps his department has taken to accomplish this, and he speaks to the overwhelming response his department has received.  Director Rahr takes a slightly different approach, asserting that change needs to begin with a shift in focus in officer training and development.

Check out the new essays here or visit We encourage you to leave any comments or thoughts you may have, and please share the essays with others! We also encourage you to contribute to the series. If you are interested, please send your 500-1000 word essay to

Building Guardians to Create a Better Community

sue rahr 2
By Sue Rahr
Executive Director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission

As a profession, law enforcement has become very good at fighting crime. The FBI stats have proven it over the past several years.

Yet, as a profession, we are struggling. And much of it, though unintentional, is self-inflicted.

While we have done a great job attacking the disease in the community that is violent crime, the way some have carried out the effort has damaged the immune system built on public trust. The results have been eye-opening and are tremendously important: it turns out most people care more about how they are treated than the crime rate – a phenomenon demonstrated over decades of social science research.

We shouldn’t be surprised by that. Who enjoys being conquered? Demeaned? Intimidated?

The results explain the negative cloud that has engulfed policing in this country and the growing divide between cops and citizens. Some communities fear police rather than seeing them as a source of protection and help.

So how did we get here? Read More & Share

Community Relations are a Two-Way Street

chief bidouBy Chief Andrew Bidou
Vallejo, CA, Police Department

It was a year ago when I became chief of the Vallejo Police Department. I was proud to join it – the department has a great group of officers and support staff, but like many communities here in Northern California, Vallejo has also been hit with tough times.

Not everyone may know it but Vallejo was the first city in the nation to file for bankruptcy from the financial epidemic that hit our country several years ago. The city officially pulled out of bankruptcy in late 2011 and we are continually making progress, but anytime a city goes through a bankruptcy, city services are altered and people’s lives are negatively impacted. That in itself builds a lot of cynicism, but it had been exacerbated by both the growing national negative opinion of law enforcement and several high profile local events.  A distinct separation from some in the community and the police was clear.

We as a command staff knew we needed to reach out as a whole and reconnect with the community. Too many invisible walls had been built up, essentially creating an us-vs.-them mindset, which really is only a lose-lose for everyone involved. Read More & Share

11th Annual Missing and Unidentified Persons Conference

The 11th Annual Missing and Unidentified Persons conference (MUPC) and pre-conference will be held in Atlanta, GA on August 15-19, 2016. The conference provides training and education to 300+ search and rescue and law enforcement professionals from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico on effective tools, techniques and strategies for locating and recovering missing persons. MUPC blends practical application and skills development with technology and science in order to provide first responders with the critical information they need to know about what works best.

Presentations will include:

  • DNA can be used effectively to identify individuals
  • Discussions and presentations on effective and practical technology, contingent on circumstances
  • Pending innovations that can help first responders identify those who are missing

The conference also provides participants with instruction on how to interact, communicate with, and support those who become displaced or disconnected from their families as a result of disasters, mass tragedies, casualties, physical or developmental disabilities, mental health, age, culture, or even physical boundaries.

  • Sixteen hours of instruction will be available through a series of four pre-conference sessions
  • Twenty hours of instruction will be offered through the conference (August 17-19)

Fox Valley Technical College’s National Criminal Justice Training Center (NCJTC) and the National Association For Search And Rescue (NASAR) are partnering on the conference.

Register now

New “On Policing” Essays Released

The Police Foundation’s new essay series, On Policing, continues to grow with the release of two brand new essays: “Inviting Outsiders Inside Policing” and “Police Errors are Opportunities to Build Trust”. Both essays offer unique perspectives and ideas about how to advance modern-day policing from authors who have dedicated their entire careers to law enforcement and public service. To view the essays, please visit the On Policing library here. We highly encourage you to leave your thoughts and comments after reading each essay, and please share the essays with others!

New essays will be released next week, so please visit the On Policing page again soon!

Register for Crime Analysis for Chief Executives workshop in Freehold, NJ, March 17-18, 2016

On March 17-18, 2016, the Police Foundation and the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST) will be hosting a Crime Analysis for Chief Executives Workshop in Freehold, New Jersey at the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office. This free, intensive two-day workshop is designed to support Chiefs, Sheriffs, and other police executives in the development, utilization, and enhancement of crime and public safety analysis intended to drive departmental operations. Limited space is still available if your agency is interested in participating as a team.

Click here for more information on registration

Inviting Outsiders Inside Policing

Joyce pictureBy Nola M. Joyce
Former Deputy Commissioner, Philadelphia Police Department

In many police departments, I would still be considered an outsider.

That might seem striking, given that I have worked in high-ranking jobs at three of the nation’s largest police departments. In Chicago, I was the deputy director of research and development, and while in Washington D.C., I was the chief administrative officer. In my last job, I was a deputy commissioner and the CAO with the Philadelphia Police Department.

But I have never been a police officer. I have never worn the shield , a fact that often surprises my sworn colleagues.

Unfortunately, the strong belief in many law enforcement agencies across the nation is that those who haven’t worn a badge are outsiders with no real understanding of policing. Another belief directly connected to this one is that as long as a person has worn a badge, they have the requisite skills to do any job in a police department, no matter their proficiency or knowledge.

These two beliefs are remarkably limiting. It has built a wall of isolation around too many police headquarters, fostering the status quo and a homogeneity world view. Quite obviously, this severely limits new ideas and prevents alternative policies and programs from being explored and developed that could improve operations. Read More & Share

Police Errors Are Opportunities to Build Trust

stephens_webBy Darrel Stephens
Executive Director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association

No one likes making mistakes, but admitting to them can be an even more loathsome prospect. In policing though, there is no better way to move forward – not just from the mistake but as an industry as a whole. Recent surveys show that people have less confidence in the police on a national level, and much of that is borne out of a loss of public trust.

Interestingly, those same surveys show that the public does have greater faith in their local police officers. At first glance, it’s hard to know exactly why there is a difference. Based on what I have seen in my career, I believe it stems from the relationships local departments have developed with members of their community. That provides a foundation for a greater level of trust between citizens and police.

Often times, a critical reason for that trust comes from acknowledging when errors are made by police officers. More often than not, people base their beliefs on the experiences they have had, and when they know a mistake has been made and handled correctly, it builds trust. The reason is pretty simple: everyone makes mistakes, and people generally understand that reality.

From my perspective, police officers make two types of errors: mistakes of the mind and mistakes of the heart. A police chief must recognize the difference and be ready to deal with both. Read More & Share