PSO Research In Progress



Police Recruitment and Selection Strategies: A Multidimensional Assessment of Effectiveness

Project Contacts: Jeremy Wilson, Cliff Grammich

Police agencies across the nation have implemented varying approaches to recruitment and selection of their workforces. Academic and other researchers have suggested still more approaches. While many tactics have been tried, few have been evaluated for their effectiveness. To evaluate different tactics and when they might be most effective, this research, with the support of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, is undertaking two tasks. First, using news articles from 2020 through 2022 as well as academic and professional research from recent years, it has identified nearly 250 different tactics that police agencies may try or have tried in recruitment and selection. These include administrative, financial, marketing, outreach, process, and specific selection tactics, among others. Second, it is asking approximately 30 practitioners and subject-matter experts to rank each of these tactics by their help in increasing staff levels and managing workload, immediacy of impact and ease of implementation, cost, and effects in increasing diversity, increasing quality of the workforce, and advancing community policing. Tactics will not be equally effective across the board. But identifying those most effective in given situations can help agencies identify which ones they should use for their circumstances.

Police Retention Following Outrage Over Deadly Force: Evidence from California

Project Contact: Neil Filosa

Across the United States, police agencies report difficulties retaining officers. It is unclear whether there is indeed a widespread decline in police retention, and if so, which individuals and agencies are most affected. I study police officers in California using an individual-level administrative data set covering over 90% of the state’s police agencies. I show that police retention does decline substantially from 2014 to 2021 following national outrage over police use of deadly force. Retention declines are driven by officers exiting policing entirely, rather than transferring laterally to other police agencies. Pension eligibility strongly influences officers’ retention decisions, and retention decreases most for officers with more years of experience. I also investigate changes in retention across jurisdictions by income, race, and political preferences.

Women in Law Enforcement: Pathways to the Field and Experiences in It

Project Contacts: Samantha Clinkinbeard, Rachael Rief

Dr. Clinkinbeard and Dr. Rief are analyzing data from approximately 50 in-depth qualitative interviews with women in law enforcement, primarily in the Midwestern United States. Interviews were focused on women's pathways into law enforcement, successes and challenges on the job, and their thoughts on the recruitment, promotion, and retention of women as well as current realities of the policing profession. Women remain largely underrepresented in policing. By learning more about their experiences, we hope to provide insight into what motivates and keeps women in the field, what challenges they face and how they are managed.

A Comprehensive Approach Building Effective Recruitment Programs

Project Contacts: Jeremy Wilson, Rosa Rivera

The police staffing crisis has led to much research and discourse about different strategies departments can implement to recruit officers. However, a strategic recruitment plan is just one of many components necessary for a comprehensive recruitment program. With support from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, this paper seeks to identify and discuss additional components practitioners must consider to fully support recruitment. We review academic and practitioner literatures across several professions to uncover issues and promising practices decision makers should consider in developing their recruitment infrastructure. We explore these more fully via a quota sample of interviews with subject matter experts representing different types, sizes, and regions of agencies, forms of responsibility, and occupations. We find factors associated with recruitment success are multi-dimensional and span individual, unit, and organizational levels. Our results illustrate how police decision makers must think far beyond their recruitment strategy when looking to bolster their workforce, and they provide a blue-print for developing a holistic, evidence-based approach to recruitment.

Intergroup Communication Barriers in Recruiting Women Police officers

Project Contact: Shawn Hill

Police are often labeled as one homogenous group in all aspects, which is not a reflection of reality, and may contribute to the lack of diverse applicants (e.g. women). Simply put, people who would otherwise apply for the position may be unable to relate to the prototypical cop often seen in police recruitment videos and high-profile police incidents emphasized in the media. This project, in collaboration with researchers from the fields of criminology, psychology, and communication, examines recruitment of female police applicants through the lens of intergroup communication.

Development of an Early Warning System for Police Workplace Health and Performance.

Project Contact: Jacqueline Drew

Description: This project will build a comprehensive organisational model of police workplace health and performance. This project answers the call for immediate organisational reform of police workplaces. Police experience harm that must be addressed through organisational improvements, leading to more efficient policing. In this first of its kind study, this project will develop a practical early warning system that promotes strategic and front-line leadership capability of Australian police agencies in workplace health and performance. It will allow better identification of risk, resource allocation and tracking of these critical issues in policing.

Examining the Nature and Evolution of the Police Staffing Crisis: A Media Content Analysis

Project Contacts: Jeremy Wilson, Jeff Gruenewald, Rosa Rivera, Cliff Grammich

Systemic and acute challenges have created a dynamic and challenging environment for police workforce planning. For many agencies, attrition has outpaced hiring, resulting in annual net losses of staff. To help address staffing shortages, the law enforcement community has instituted a wide array of innovations to expand the applicant pool, attract more candidates, minimize loss during the hiring process, and retain staff. With support from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services to better understand the current context of staffing challenges and how agencies have responded, we analyzed a stratified, random sample of news media coverage from January 2018 through December 2023. We used systematic keyword searches to identify 900 relevant news articles indexed in the Nexis Uni and Proquest US Newstream databases. Using a grounded-theory process for identifying and coding themes, our analysis provides many lessons about the circumstances leading to staffing challenges, how such challenges may vary by community, types of innovations proposed and instituted to address different staffing issues, and context for shaping the implementation of chosen strategies. The results will be of interest to practitioners, policy makers and academics interested in police workforce planning.

Assessing the Need for Law Enforcement Staffing in Airports

Project Contact: Jon Shane

This research develops a framework and associated tool to help airports assess their individual needs to determine law enforcement staffing requirements. An activity-based budgeting model will be the tool by which they accomplish this goal (Grant was submitted to NATIONAL SAFE SKIES ALLIANCE, Program for Applied Research in Airport Security, PARAS 0055).

Examination of Voluntary Resignations from the Police Service

Project Contacts: Sarah Charman, Jemma Tyson

Professor Sarah Charman and Dr Jemma Tyson are currently analysing the data from 62 semi-structured interviews with people who voluntarily resigned from the police service in England and Wales between January 2021 and June 2022. We are particularly interested in analysing this data through the lenses of identity, voice and organisational justice. We have future plans to extend this to a particular focus on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic leavers, female leavers and those with an intention to leave. Learn more about initial findings from the project here.

Leadership for Wellness Strategy for Police Leaders: Development of Leadership Development Program focused on police mental health and wellbeing.

Project Contact: Jacqueline Drew

While trauma has a role to play in understanding wellbeing outcomes, the focus on trauma has had the unintended consequence of diverting attention from the substantial adverse impacts we now know are being caused by workplace stressors. Organisational and operational stressors form a hidden ‘black box’ of potential harms, they have not been adequately acknowledged or addressed. For this reason, we call attention to leaders and leadership. Continued and persistent rates of psychological ill-health in our police and public safety agencies is fundamentally a people issue; it must go beyond simply providing support to staff who are negatively impacted by the workplace. Leaders create, or at least influence, many of the workplace factors that are associated with wellbeing. This project will build a police leadership development program to upskill leaders and support them in being ‘leaders for wellness’.

Withdrawal from the Academy

Project Contact: Ann Marie Ryan

Along with collaborators at the Michigan State Police and Baruch University, we are conducting a series of related investigations regarding why individuals, and particularly underrepresented individuals, withdraw from the Academy. In these projects we are examining historical data, interviewing leavers and stayers across multiple cohorts, and conducting an event sampling study to understand factors that lead those who accept a role in policing to leave early in their socialization and onboarding.

Innovation in Police Gender Equity Management: Looking Back, Moving Forward.

Project Contact: Jacqueline Drew

Description: This project aims to investigate gender equity recruitment and career support policies in all nine Australian and New Zealand policing agencies. A wide range of equity initiatives that have been implemented across police agencies will be examined, along with affirmative action measures including recent 50/50 male/female recruitment targets. The project will generate an advanced best practice model that can be used by domestic and international police agencies. This will allow police organisations to better manage equity issues and support a more inclusive and representative workforce. The benefits of this project are significant, they range from stronger police-community relations through to better service delivery by police.

The National Police Staffing Project

Project Contact: Jeremy Wilson

With support from the National Institute of Justice, we will execute a national platform of research that comprehensively and systematically

  1. Examines the contemporary police staffing experience.
  2. Assesses and provides actionable lessons on the nature, changes, challenges, and strategies associated with current workforce, recruitment, selection, attrition, retention, workload, promotion, job requirements, and training needs and requirements.

Our core tasks for this comprehensive national assessment are a nationally representative survey of police agencies and focus groups of POST representatives, and case studies of participating agencies serving as benchmarks on their staffing efforts. Specific tasks include

  1. National landscape assessment, including personnel budget, levels, workload, and tasks.
  2. Training and certification assessment, including changes in hiring and certification standards and motivations for these.
  3. Contextual assessment of six agencies selected for their diversity in staffing experience, size, region, partnerships, and enthusiasm to participate. This task and the remaining below will involve the case study agencies.
  4. Recruitment assessment, including recruiter characteristics and outreach material.
  5. Selection assessment, including agency processes, and candidate flow and characteristics.
  6. Job assessment of case-study agencies, including a content analysis of open positions.
  7. Promotion assessment of case-study agencies, including their volume, diversity, and perceived barriers.
  8. Attrition assessment, including characteristics of those leaving the agency and why.
  9. Retention assessment, including strategies and perceptions of those staying.
  10. Program evaluation, including efficiency, process, and cost-effectiveness analyses. Specific evaluations include those pertaining to civilian investigator and cadet programs, effects of hiring incentives, and cost-trade-offs of recruitment versus retention.

This project will provide objective, independent, and practice-relevant knowledge and lessons to practitioners, researchers, and policy makers about the nature, changes, challenges, and solutions relative to the police staffing process, from recruitment, selection, and retention to training, promotions, and community representation.

Real-World Engagement & Turnover Analysis to Inform New Solutions (RETAINS): An Evidence-Based Policing Workforce Study

Project Contact: Gary Cordner

Baltimore Police Department will be included in a newly-funded project focused on police officer retention. The project is led by the Research Triangle Institute and the National Policing Institute and will be getting underway in 2023. Learn more about the entire project at the National Institute of Justice website here.

Identity Management of Police Officers

Project Contact: Ann Marie Ryan

In this series of studies, Dia Chatterjee and Anne Marie Ryan examine how officers manage their professional identity in light of changing views of the policing profession. Project personnel employ interviews, surveys, and experimental studies in their work on this topic.

FOP Biennial Critical Issues In Policing Survey: A National Survey of United States Law Enforcement.

Project Contact: Jacqueline Drew

Description: First launched in 2021, the biennial survey of US law enforcement (active and retired officers) focuses on critical issues in policing, mental health, suicidal behaviours and wellbeing. The research provides critical insights into prevalence rates of mental health and wellbeing across the US police cohort, considers the key stressors impacting on officers and examines the availability, access and effectiveness of wellness services.

Activity-Based Budgeting with the Ocean View, DE Police Department

Project Contact: Jon Shane

Description: As a demonstration project with the Ocean View, DE Police Department, this research implements an activity-based budgeting model as a proof of concept, justifying hiring additional police officers for community policing and estimating costs when increasing the officers' proactive time from 67% to 75%.

Civilianization of the Baltimore Police Department

Project Contact: Gary Cordner

Baltimore Police Department is currently engaged in expanding civilianization. One element is 35 new civilian investigator positions. This is just getting underway in late 2022 with most hiring and training expected to occur in 2023. Learn more about the Baltimore Police Department’s civilianization efforts here.