U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Calculating the Cost of Police Turnover

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 69 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2002 Pages: 100-103
W. Dwayne Orrick
Date Published
October 2002
4 pages
This article discusses the increasing levels of staff turnover in police agencies as well as the difficulty in recruiting new officers.
The first factor contributing to this situation was the good economy and the demand for good employees that reduced the size of the labor pool. The second factor has been the introduction of a new generation of employees that have a different view of work than that of the generation preceding them. These employees change jobs more frequently due to the desire to build job skills for career advancement. The skills and abilities required of police officers make them attractive candidates for many private businesses. To effectively address the issue of retaining or recruiting employees, four variables should be identified: (1) cost of employee turnover; (2) why employees are leaving; (3) proposed recruitment/retention techniques; and (4) cost of implementing proposed techniques. There is a tendency to focus on the short-term costs of replacing an officer and ignore the investment that has compounded over the years. The strength and cohesion that a department gains by having experienced staff is diminished and cannot be replaced. The criteria to consider when calculating personnel turnover costs are separation costs, recruitment costs, selection costs, new employee costs, and training costs. A conservative estimate of an agency’s financial investment in an employee is the cost of selecting and training a new officer. Administrators need to focus their efforts on learning why officers are leaving. One of the most important things to do is to ask the employee what is important to them, such as salary, opportunities for advancement, and career development. Using information gathered in employee surveys or interviews, retention and recruitment techniques or actions can be rank-ordered from most to least desirable. The costs of implementation should be assigned to each proposal. 5 footnotes