Service-Oriented Police Recruits Make Better Officers

Published: May 18, 2006

WASHINGTON – A recently released U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) report details the experiences of five law enforcement agencies that have made sweeping changes in how they recruited and hired new officers. The report suggests that recruits who are attracted to a career in law enforcement based on their desire to serve and support communities make better officers than recruits who are attracted to the profession in pursuit of the type of adventure that is often associated with police work.

The findings are detailed in a new COPS publication titled Innovations in Police Recruitment and Hiring, which is available free of charge.

The studies were conducted at five law enforcement agencies that were competitively selected to serve as demonstration sites for the federal agency’s ‘Hiring in the Spirit of Service’ project. The five sites range from departments that serve relatively small homogeneous communities to those that serve large diverse populations. The departments chosen as demonstration sites were: the Sacramento Police Department (CA); the Burlington Police Department (VT); the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (FL); the Detroit Police Department (MI); and the King County Sheriff’s Office (WA).

“As police departments struggle to hire quality candidates in a competitive job market, recruiting and retaining good officers is an increasing challenge for the nation’s police and sheriff’s departments,” said COPS Director Carl R. Peed. “There is little question that the quality of police service is directly linked to the individual behavior of officers, and the experiences of these law enforcement agencies indicate that recruits who have a strong service orientation, solid interpersonal skills, and a predisposition toward working with the community are better prepared to meet the demands placed on today’s law enforcement professional.”Innovations in Police Recruitment and Hiring can be obtained free of charge by contacting the COPS Response Center at (800) 421-6770. Copies of the publication can also be downloaded at www.cops.usdoj.gov.

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