Reducing Campus Police Officer Turnover in a Tight Labor Market

Published: June 20, 2024Episode #99
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The U.S. is currently experiencing a labor shortage, and nowhere is that being experienced more than in law enforcement. In 2022, officer turnover and resignations were up 47% compared to 2019. Additionally, retirements were up 19%, according to a survey from the Police Executive Research Forum.

College campus public safety has also been greatly impacted by the current tight labor market. Florida SouthWestern University’s police department had an employee turnover rate of more than 20% in 2019 when its current chief of police, Jerry Connolly, took over the agency’s helm.

He inherited a department that “fostered a less than desirable culture that consisted of no accountability, non-compliant personnel, a lack of modernized infrastructure with robust policies that properly govern the police department,” says Connolly. “And they didn’t have any competitive incentives that were comparable to similar policing agencies.”

Florida SouthWestern Chief Makes Big Changes to Reduce Employee Turnover

The chief quickly got to work, authoring more than 150 policies to modernize the department’s infrastructure. His team also increased accountability, delineated officer and employee responsibilities, developed fair and equitable practices, equally distributed workloads, increased training, and introduced succession planning.

Additionally, Connolly was able to obtain a significant pay increase for his officers. Up to that point, his officers’ salaries weren’t competitive with other agencies that were similar to Florida SouthWestern’s.

Related Article: How to Get Pay Raises for Your Campus Public Safety Department Officers

All of these changes resulted in a massive reduction in turnover from more than 20% five years ago to 2%-5% today.

And on top of all that, his department will be accredited this June. All this and more took the better part of four years to accomplish

His work in reducing employee turnover is just one reason why Connolly was named one of this year’s Campus Safety Higher Education Director of the Year finalists.

In this interview, Connolly provides tips on how to reduce employee turnover. Some of the changes he recommends are small but have the potential to make a big impact.

“Listen to your employees and they will tell you what they’re looking for,” he suggests. “Obviously, a lot of the stuff that they tell you is small things and it’s within reason. And then you can capitalize on that by improving morale, by approving their ideas or implementing the things that they’re talking about.”

Watch the full interview here or listen on the go on Apple or Spotify.




Campus Safety Voices

Campus Safety's podcast featuring important and timely conversations with those charged with the public safety, security and emergency management of schools, universities and healthcare facilities.


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Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series