A 13-step plan to speed up the police recruitment process


Several variables are driving the current police recruitment crisis. Some of the issues, such as the economy and media criticism of the police, are beyond our control. Still, there are strategies police chiefs can implement to increase the number of candidates who apply to join departments.

Dedicate resources and develop a recruitment and retention plan

Regardless of the size of the service, agency leaders must design a strategic plan that addresses short-term and long-term police personnel needs. The plan should assess budgetary needs for recruitment, as well as appropriate staffing to adequately staff the agency. The plan should predict attrition based on situational awareness of contemporary issues, and not rely solely on historical data trends.

The hiring manager must have a dedicated staff chosen as the best representative of the department. Recruiters should be trained to be mentors and able to answer any questions candidates may have. Recruiters need to be proactive and personable in engaging and encouraging candidates. Agencies should analyze their regions to determine the best methods of finding candidates, such as through social media or print media, and the best locations such as local colleges and universities, as well as locations unique to the region (churches, beaches, gymnasiums, road rallies, street fairs, sporting events, community gatherings, military offloading facilities, etc.).

Accelerate the recruitment process

Today’s candidate pool wants immediate gratification. The thought of applying for a job that can take up to 12 months or more is unfathomable to many. The antiquated system of requiring candidates to complete applications and then go through a testing period for written tests, oral tests, physical agility and medical screening, drug screening, background, polygraph and psychological testing, is not appealing to candidates today.

Technology can shorten the police recruitment application process. The test segments mentioned above can be standardized and processed simultaneously rather than consecutively. Platforms like interviewnow.io can bring recruiters and candidates together via remote forums that would enable national recruiting efforts rather than regional or local ones.

Some agencies already expedite the applicant eligibility process by requesting the applicant’s driver’s license, a hair sample for drug analysis, and a brief background biography. Medical waivers to review pre-existing medical conditions can also be obtained at this stage.

When it comes to background investigations, software-centric systems from companies like Guardian Alliance Technologies and Miller Mendel can speed up the process dramatically. The idea of ​​having a group of case-laden background investigators doing background work and waiting for packets of information to be mailed back should be a thing of the past.

National testing process and database

As we await the release of President Biden’s $13 billion law enforcement recruiting plan, we can only hope the plan will include funding for recruiting innovation. Some of the ideas that could reduce delays and backlogs include:

  1. Establishment of a national law enforcement candidate database containing candidate profiles (age, gender, regional preferences, etc.) accessible to any agency.
  2. Development of national virtual forums for candidates to learn about agencies, testing requirements and expectations associated with the recruitment process.
  3. Creation of a free national application process using a standard Pellet-B test for example.
  4. Partnerships with private sector selection centers to pre-screen candidates.
  5. Free pre-test facilities for written, oral and physical agility tests.
  6. Monthly tests to collect baseline skill levels to allow candidates to improve their scores.
  7. Physical testing at police academies, public or private athletic gymnasiums, or dedicated state testing sites.
  8. Take other tests concurrently after passing the written tests.
  9. Using software-based background checks.
  10. Accelerated testing using one of the available accepted truth practices such as a polygraph, computer voice stress analyzer, Converus EyeDetect or other devices.
  11. Conditional hiring budgets allow offers to be made within 30 days of the written test while other substantive tests are taking place. Applicants would be required to sign injury waivers, knowing that failure to pass the background check would result in their release.
  12. Once at the academy, additional funds should be allocated for remedial training, mentoring and retention plans for struggling recruits.
  13. Retention plans should include alternate functions within a department to employ non-academy graduates in other positions within the agency (non-sworn positions in administration, security, helpers to policing, traffic, community relations, etc.) rather than full dismissal. This would be an incentive for people who are reluctant to apply to a law enforcement agency at risk of losing their current job.

Efforts must be made to address the police recruitment crisis as a national problem, not a local or even regional one. These 13 strategies are a step in that direction.

Next steps: Read the country reports

In 2019, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) published “The Workforce Crisis, and What Police Agencies are Doing About It”, which was followed the same year by an IACP report titled “A Crisis for Law Enforcement”. .

Both reports describe similar challenges regarding the evolution of changes in law enforcement functions in responding to mental health crises, homelessness, and collateral social issues such as drug overdoses. The reports also detail issues with decades-old policies and procedures around recruiting and testing.

While neither report offers concrete solutions, police leaders can use the documents as a starting point to develop strategies specific to their agency’s needs.

NEXT: Best Recruiting Practices From America’s Largest State Police Agency


Comments are closed.