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Recruiting and Retaining America's Finest: Evidence-Based Lessons for Police Workforce Planning

NCJ Number
Date Published
139 pages

The objective of this monograph is to formulate evidence-based lessons on recruitment, retention, and managing workforce profiles in large police departments. It extends the present literature on personnel planning by focusing on empirical analysis and by placing recruitment and retention in a larger context of managing the police workforce and its structure.


Results of the survey of current recruitment and retention practices, how they affected police recruitment and personnel profiles, and future research needs include: (1) police compensation, city size, and crime rates had statistically significant effects on police recruiting; (2) advertising and recruiting incentives had little effect on the number of recruits; (3) cohort sizes and structures highlighted current and future personnel management challenges; and (4) ongoing national data collection to facilitate comparative and longitudinal analyses of police staffing. A critical but often times neglected function of police organizations is management of the sworn officer force. Police organizations receive little empirical guidance on how best to build and maintain their workforce. This work, supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, sought to fill the gap of information on practices available to police agencies through a survey of police agencies on their recruitment and retention practices and how they can affect the profile of officers at differing ranks of services. The survey was sent to every United States policy agency with at least 300 sworn officers, and sought to document such characteristics as authorized and actual strength by rank, officer work and qualifications, compensation, and recruiting efforts. The data provided an overview of current recruitment and retention practices, how they affected police personnel profiles, and to identify future research needs. Tables, figures, appendixes, and references

Date Published: January 1, 2010