Staffing the “Small” Department: Taking Stock of Existing Benchmarks and Promising Approaches

Staffing police departments is a continuous challenge and one that has become more complex in recent years. Immediately prior to the onset of the 2008 recession, police agencies had difficulty recruiting officers and responded by implementing a number of creative recruitment incentives. Shortly thereafter, the depressed economy caused police agencies to implement hiring freezes, furloughs, layoffs, salary and benefit cutbacks, and retirement incentives. Such difficulties spurred 7,272 applications to the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program, requesting $8.3 billion to support more than 39,000 sworn-officer positions.1 Altogether, both the supply of and demand for qualified officers are changing in a time of increasing attrition, expanding law enforcement responsibilities, and decreasing resources.