Monday, January 04, 2010

Despite high unemployment rate, law enforcement slots hard to fill

A couple of seemingly related recent stories about law-enforcement recruitment caught my eye:

First, in Dallas, the Sheriff's Office had 200 people take the test to become deputies, but only 50 passed the written test and just 16 of those met the physical requirements, reported Kevin Krause at the Dallas News Crime Blog. "Those 16 will now go on to the next phase -- a background check, a psychological evaluation and a polygraph test."

That's a pretty poor ratio of successful applicants.

Last month at The Crime Report, an article by a pair of academics examined long-term hiring trends for police and corrections officers:
A study we concluded last year, shows that the median age of U.S. police officers increased five years to 38.7 years between 1991 and 2008, while the median age for correctional officers increased by seven years to 40.8. Many of these criminal justice personnel are baby boomers who are now eligible for retirement. Replacing these workers will become increasingly difficult: population projections from the Census Bureau show that the proportion of the population aged 25-44—the age group representing over two-thirds (68 percent) of all patrol officers in 2008—will decrease over the next four decades.

This shrinking pool of potential workers will force law enforcement and corrections agencies to shift their hiring and retention practices. Their job will be complicated by the increasing competition for bright and capable personnel among the military, justice systems, and corporations, who all recruit from the same pool of job candidates. Justice systems are further challenged because they require workers with high levels of physical fitness, integrity, commitment, and clean drug-use histories. These expectations clash with the fact that large numbers of young persons have experimented with drugs, owe more money, and have high levels of obesity—all potential disqualifiers for law enforcement careers.
In addition to overall demographic trends, the fact that the United States has large numbers of troops deployed in two active wars - not to mention the dramatic expansion in the last five years of Border Patrol personnel - means there's more competition for qualified officers than ever before.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why would you (a peace officer applicant)want to be employed and be treated as a "second class" citizen?

Why do departments insist on hiring only youngsters?

Why do departments have high physical endurance requirements? If you answer, "Because these minimum standards must be met to do the job", I want to remind ALL departments that you lowered the standards when you were required to hire more women(Don't feel bad, so did the military).

Departments could look at the job descriptions and determine which jobs really needed the "Steriod Boys". Re-write those that do not. That alone would help the shortage.

I accepted my first Law Enforcement job in 1961, and retired from the Criminal Justice Field in 2004. Laws, policies, and certainly employment criteria have changed during those years!