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NCJ Number
Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine Volume: 26 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2002 Pages: 34-39
Shelly Feuer Domash
Date Published
May 2002
6 pages
This article explores the declining number of police officers, the reasons why agencies and police ranks are depleted, and the efforts of major departments to attract new recruits.
Across the country, police departments are facing a depletion of ranks and a paucity of new recruits. Experts point to stagnant salaries, the lure of private industry, wage freezes, hiring freezes, and municipal personnel cuts as some of the reasons why police departments cannot retain officers or recruit new hires. In addition, police departments suffer attrition because of retirement. To attract new recruits and keep serving officers, police departments are resorting to unique strategies. In Chicago, the police department has waived its college education requirement for people with 4 years military experience. In New York, the police department advertises for new recruits on subway billboards. The Boca Raton Police Department holds recruitment pizza dinners. In San Francisco, the police department offers incentive pay for officers with language skills, and the Miami Police Department offers command level training to officers to motivate them for advancement. In spite of these efforts, police ranks continue to diminish. In an apparent national trend, there is a significant gap between the number of people who sign up to take the police department entrance exam and those who actually take it. And police officers approaching retirement age are opting for early retirement, in spite of bonus pay and other perks. Police departments point to money and lifestyle choice as the main obstacles in recruitment and retaining officers. New recruits are attracted to private industry salaries or the higher salaries offered by surrounding departments (for example, the New York Port Authority offers a higher salary than the New York City Police Department). Officers in service who receive bonuses are eager to take advantage of early retirement. In addition, police departments claim that new recruits no longer see police work as a lifelong career. Instead, they view it as a temporary job to suit their lifestyle.