The Right Person for the Right Position: Changing Hiring Practices to Meet 21st Century Demands

Finding the right person for the right position in a law enforcement agency is a challenge every police executive encounters on a regular basis. Police chiefs across the globe share the frustration of trying to find applicants with diverse skill sets who can meet the complex requirements to become a police officer. These skills include those that fit the duties of a tactical responder as well as those of a community organizer, mental health practitioner, and social media expert, and the ability to juggle these responsibilities while also responding to calls for service and working to reduce or prevent crime. Since hiring the perfect candidates with all of these skills has proven difficult, agencies often try to find the right people for specific positions from within their existing staff, with mixed results. While major departments may be able to choose from among their considerable numbers and then keep the right employees in specific jobs for their entire careers, the majority of police departments simply do not have that luxury. Instead, they rely on providing as much specialized training as possible to their generalist patrol officers, with the hope that enough information is retained and used wisely and effectively.