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Back to Archives | Back to March 2011 Contents 

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Grant Publication: Law Enforcement Recruitment Toolkit



This project was supported by Grant Number 2005-HS-WX-K003, awarded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice.

Following are areas covered in the Law Enforcement Recruitment Toolkit:


Strategies to Improve Recruitment

Effective recruitment practices are described more fully in the IACP Recruitment Toolkit, but the list of strategies in the Law Enforcement Recruitment Toolkit can serve as a starting point for agencies seeking both more and better applicants.


Collaborate with Other Police Agencies

Effective police recruitment exceeds the capacity of any one agency. Continuing the use of fragmented recruitment strategies and tactics is self-defeating for the police profession. Police leaders should seek ways to cooperate with each other to maximize their effectiveness.


Engage the Community

Police leaders can benefit by making police recruitment a community concern. Community support can help lower the obstacles to progress, and shared responsibility can increase the likelihood of political support for needed changes.


Improve Relations with External Human Resource Offices and Elected Officials

The nature, scope, and intensity of police recruitment problems warrant total government commitment. The obligation to engage government leadership rests with the police executive. He or she must provide compelling evidence for political commitment and involvement by the local governmental leadership and obtain a commitment from this group to work toward a long-term, lasting solution.


Streamline Your Recruitment and Selection Process

Police departments are often burdened with cumbersome recruitment and selection processes that can frustrate applicants and drive them to seek other employment. The most effective recruitment and selection processes are those that are completed quickly and allow a candidate to move swiftly from application to employment decision points.

Involve Everyone in the Department in Recruitment

A total-agency approach nearly always is the best course in problem solving. Law enforcement agencies are watched closely by the media and other entities, and reports of disagreement between police management and labor often create confusion in the community and can cause good programs to fail.


Put Someone in Charge of Recruiting

Commitment to meeting recruitment goals starts with the chief, but every agency, regardless of size, should have one person who has the lead responsibility for police recruitment. In agencies with fewer resources, the recruitment task may be ad hoc.


Tell the Police Story

Perhaps the greatest task facing the police community is to tell the police story. Many Americans undervalue police service. Police leaders must develop and implement a plan to communicate an honest portrayal of police work directly to the American people.


Enhance Web Outreach

In general, police agencies have harnessed the power of web-based communications effectively. Home pages are well done and attract visitors looking for quick information or desiring to learn more about crime in a particular community. Some police agencies have done an exceptional job of exploiting the power of the web while others have yet to fully use this new tool. Using the web for police recruitment can bring much of the global labor pool to an agency’s electronic front door.


Enlist the Support of the Media

Much of the media are aware of police staffing problems, but generally do not understand their shared responsibility to solve the problem. Police executives should reach out to their media contacts to discuss the nature and scope of the challenges of recruiting police officers.


Reach out to the Young

Children tend to think of police officers as friends and protectors, and many express a desire to be one someday. But, as they grow up, many lose interest in policing, and some even lose their faith in the police. It is in the best interest of the police and the community to change that trend.


Hire Transitional Workers

The police industry needs to take a hard look at hiring transitional workers. Many skilled professionals who have left careers in fields such as teaching, aviation, and medicine because of mandatory or preferred retirement dates still have a desire to serve. Others have grown stale in their current jobs and are seeking new challenges.


Mentor Applicants through the Process

In addition to streamlining its application process, a police agency needs to establish a personal relationship with applicants from the start. After all, these people will become coworkers and eventually leaders of the organization. A welcoming and supportive attitude will pay dividends in the long run.

To order or download the publication, click here. For more information, contact Kim Kohlhepp, Manager, Center for Testing Services and Career Development, International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-2357; call 703-647-7237 or 800-843-4227, extension 237; fax 703-836-4544; or e-mail kohlheppk@theiacp.org.

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From The Police Chief, vol. LXXVII, no. 3, March 2011. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.








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