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Leading Our Most Important Resource: Police Personnel Issues in the Year 2020

NCJ Number
Carl J. Jensen III, Ph.D.; Melissa A. Graves, J.D., M.A.
Date Published
March 2013
33 pages
This report predicts personnel issues that will affect U.S. police departments by the year 2020.
Three major "drivers" are identified as likely to change police personnel issues by the year 2020. First, new technologies will both pose challenges and offer solutions. Crimes committed via computer will continue to increase and become more sophisticated; and technological innovation will serve as "force multipliers" (e.g., the automated, continuous analysis of closed-circuit television feeds). Second, demographic shifts will consist of "Baby Boomers" living longer and healthier, possibly delaying retirement until economic conditions improve; continued high levels of both legal and illegal immigration; and the entry of the "Millennial Generation" into the workforce. For the first time in history, four "generations" will be working together. Third, although inherently difficult to forecast, many experts believe that economic recovery from the 2008 recession will be slow; most police agencies will not have significant increases in their budgets in the near future. The likely impact of these three "drivers" on police personnel are examined for hiring, training, retaining, and leading the future workforce. Regarding hiring, the need for increased specialization in a world of changing technology will be reflected in the hiring of nonsworn personnel with technological expertise in various areas. In the area of training, the expanded use of video-gaming techniques has the potential to provide police training that is more economical, interactive, interesting, and effective. Regarding the retention of police personnel, this will become more difficult as pay rates for public employees fail to keep pace with pay rates in the private sector. Police managers will likely be heavily influenced by the evolving change in organizational structure from hierarchies to networks, which are flexible and able to respond quickly to change. Strategies for addressing these various issues are proposed. 1 table and 42 references