Fixing America’s Police Recruit Shortage
Police officers face countless external threats every day. However, one of the greatest threats facing law enforcement officers is an internal threat. There is a police recruit shortage. There simply are not enough police recruits to fill open positions, or positions that are expected to open in the coming months and years. Pools of new police recruits are getting smaller.
In Boston, for example, it was reported that 458 officers are projected to be eligible for retirement by 2019, with a current pool of only 56 candidates to fill those positions.
Seattle faces a similar shortage problem. Since 2008, applications for open Seattle Police Department positions have dropped nearly 90%.
The increasing dangers of the job and high-profile negative press stories have both contributed to the shortage of new police recruits. Many potential recruits have simply decided to abandon a career in law enforcement given the dangers of the job and increased public scrutiny of police officers. Additionally, private sector employment offers higher pay, making a career in law enforcement less lucrative to potential recruits.
Solutions to the Police Recruit Shortage?
Some law enforcement agencies are actively combatting the recruit shortage problem. In Portland, for example, new police officers are given a $10,000 signing bonus and are guaranteed a 10% pay increase within two years.
In San Jose, California, the city recently agreed to raise officer salaries by 20% over the next three years.
The police recruit shortage problem in America is deep and complex, but a common-sense solution to addressing the problem is to provide proper funding so that departments can incentivize new recruits to enter the police profession. Unfortunately, some local officials argue that increased funding is not possible given budget and fiscal crises in many American cities. However, there is no area of higher importance than public safety when it comes to how local governments allocate their budgets.
Higher pay, signing bonuses and other incentives will help to fix the growing police shortage in the United States. Government officials must spare no expense to ensure that police departments are able to recruit the best candidates!
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