Amid calls for police reform across the country, police fight for recruitment and retention


As protests across the country continue to force communities to heed a history of police brutality and racism, police departments across the country are struggling to recruit and retain officers, particularly in those areas. rural areas of America and among minorities.


In the aftermath of the protests following the murder of George Floyd while in custody, masses of officers from the Minneapolis Police Department have requested leave force, with 200 requests having already been filed, or 20% of the police department.

The low number of recruitments nationwide and a sharp increase in the number of officers choosing to leave the police force before retirement age has caused a “workforce crisis” according to a 2019 report by the Police Executive Research Forum.

The number of new hires has been declining for years, according to the report, with some departments reporting a 50-70% drop in new applications since 2015.

Among the reasons why agents are choose to leave the police or giving up the career all together is “increased scrutiny and criticism” of the profession and “negative news about police use of force,” according to the report.

In rural communities, recruitment often suffers because people choose to work in more flexible and better paying jobs in other markets or in more urban police services.

Key context

Police departments have struggled to fill positions for years as traditional sources of recruits, such as the military or former officers, are in decline. Many departments are in desperate need of recruits with the technological skills necessary to solve modern crimes such as identity theft, cyberstalking, and sextortion. In an effort to attract recruits, many departments are streamlining the application process and relaxing hiring standards, especially when it comes to past drug use, facial hair, or tattoos. Recruiters are also turning away from high-octane videos of specialized units using militarized equipment, rappelling down walls, or using powerful weapons and instead trying to focus on more accurate depictions of what police officers are doing each day. day, which they believe will help reach more non-traditional recruits with the skills they need to tackle 21st century crime.

further reading

As US police struggle to recruit, young cops seek a more humane approach (Reuters)

The police are already struggling to find recruits. Public scrutiny makes it harder, poll finds (Miami Herald)

Minneapolis police experience wave of departures following George Floyd protests (New York Times)

Workforce crisis and what the police are doing about it (Police Executives Research Forum)

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