Staffing System and Retention Management in American Law Enforcement Agencies

Published: 2021-07-08
1706 words
7 pages
15 min to read
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
Literature review
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Recruiting adequate numbers of competent applicants to meet the staffing needs of a law enforcement agency is the most important human resource function in a police department. Moreover, the success of the departments staffing efforts affects every other task in the organization. Notably, for years, American law enforcement agencies availed safe and stable employment. A sufficient workforce allowed many police leaders to ignore the significance of recruitment. However, today, police departments nationwide report experiencing difficulty attracting and retaining enough numbers of officers, yet, as Ryan and Tippins (2004) assert, organizational needs require that human resource professionals achieve these goals of recruiting and retaining timely and in a cost-effective manner. Therefore, human resource departments are consistently called upon to establish new strategies for attraction, new techniques for selection, and new methods to enhance workforce diversity, while putting into consideration the often competing requirements and views of different stakeholders.

Recruiting, screening and training many and qualified applicants comprise the first stage of the staffing process. The second step entails retaining the qualified officers after the agency has invested in their training and development. However, according to Wareham, Smith, and Lambert (2015), most companies focus more on the former part of the process than on the latter. Nevertheless, both parts are essential for the success of any law enforcement agency. In particular, companies must comprehensively view staffing. Before human resource departments commence to recruit officers, it is essential to identify the number of officers and the needs of the agency through a staffing analysis and an analysis of the average turnover rates. Similarly, it is crucial to implement sufficient strategies to curb employee turnover. Furthermore, Wareham et al. (2015) note that employee turnover in policing results in significant costs to law enforcement agencies. Therefore, this study seeks to review past research on the staffing system and retention management in American law enforcement agencies.

Literature Review

Staffing is a crucial process for any organization. According to Ingelsson, Eriksson, and Lilja (2012), the selection of workers plays a significant role in the effectiveness of total quality management in an organization. In particular, the selection and retention processes enable companies to recruit employees with unique characteristics and values that meet the organizational culture. Shared values within an entity allow it to achieve successful execution of total quality management. Such values often arise from staffing from a diverse pool of applicants regarding qualifications, ethnicity, gender, and ages. Thus, Jones (2008) advises those leadership qualities are necessary during the selection and retention processes especially because of such powerful minority characteristics such as gender or ethnicity.

Ingelsson et al. (2012) suggest a strategy of selection based on the set organizational values. Organizations should utilize this strategy as a guide when recruiting new employees and when choosing among already existing staff. Notably, since values are difficult to change, this approach begins with sourcing employees with the desired values. The organization then recruits candidates, reviews their qualifications, and then interviews them. According to Ryan and Tippins (2004), the interviewing stage is the most important when hiring the right values. Then, the qualified employee is selected, and negotiation takes place where a contract forms between the employee and employer. The final step is retention, which involves keeping employees within the organization.

However, despite many law enforcement agencies implementing the selection strategy as suggested by Ingelsson et al. (2012), employee turnover in the agencies is still rampant. Wareham et al. (2015) reveal that the rates of turnover vary by the kind of turnovers such as death, retirement, termination, and voluntary resignations. According to their report, the rate of retirement nationally was around 1% in both 2003 and 2008. Similarly, the national rate of voluntary departure was approximately 7.5% in 2003 and 2008. On average, about 70% of total turnover reported resulted from sworn officers resigning voluntarily from the agencies (Wareham et al., 2015). Notably, this can be expensive for a police entity. Wareham et al. (2015) compare these figures against the benchmarks found in their study and establish that some agencies have a high retention rate while others have a low retention rate (75% in 2003 and 67% in 2008). Nevertheless, Bowman, Carlson, Colvin, and Green (2006) argue that these agency-level rates may either be active, for example, termination of nonperforming employees or negative such as the voluntary resignation of competent officers depending on the persons specific reasons for turnover, which can lead to costly staffing and training.

According to Faint (2011), these costs of staffing and training manifest in two forms, namely, direct and indirect financial costs. Examples of direct economic costs include the loss of the performance and expertise of the officer and staffing and training costs of replacement recruits. Notably, recruiting and hiring expenses tend to be much higher for police agencies than for other types of companies (Wareham et al., 2015). Additionally, finding qualified applicants for law enforcement positions is not a simple task since many candidates are eliminated through the costly and time-consuming screening process that includes interviews, tests, and background investigations. On the other hand, Faint (2011) outlines the indirect costs of turnover to include reduced social networks and contacts, the loss of expertise to the agency, insufficient staffing, reduced morale, and increased use of weak and inexperienced staff. Consequently, it leads to difficulty in maintaining sufficient staffing levels, which translates to less police coverage in the community and decreases the quality of services.

Wareham et al. (2015) assert that turnover rates are contextual and change by geographic location and type of police entity a notion that Bowman et al. (2006) support. In particular, their studies establish that the various forms of turnover vary by the four regions of the United States. Mainly, agencies in the South register higher resignations, voluntary separations, and lower retirement rates than other areas. Moreover, the Northeast region records the highest retirement rate. Interestingly, Wareham et al. (2015) note that the turnover rates reduced significantly between 2003 and 2008 in the Northeast while total turnover rates increased significantly between 2003 and 2008 in the West and South regions. Similarly, Bowman et al. (2006) add that the size and type of agency are attributable to different types of turnover. Rural agencies recorded higher levels of resignations and voluntary separation than suburban and urban agencies. Similarly, the study also suggested that the kind of organization, such as municipal, state, and county matters regarding rates of turnover (Wareham et al., 2015). Mainly, municipal police departments registered higher rates of turnover than state and county agencies. On the other hand, state agencies had higher rates of retirement.

Wareham et al. (2015) fail to research on the new careers that leaving agents adopt. However, Bowman et al. (2006) note that most state and local law enforcement officers exit their previous law enforcement job roles to become FBI special agents. Similarly, Faint (2011) indicates that skilled and experienced officers are drawn away from active police duties into administrative positions, which they perceive as more prestigious and lucrative than frontline work. Notably, this continuous drain of experienced officers away from policing depletes the law enforcement agencies of advanced skills and expertise that crucial to the law enforcement. Therefore, the agencies are becoming imbalanced and distorted in their motivations and functions, which devalues the essential work needed on the frontline. Consequently, fundamental questions related to this arise and they seek to establish why do qualified employees leave and what would it take to prevent them from moving.

According to Bowman et al. (2006), DuPlooy and Roodt (2010), Romaine (2014), and Koch and Nafziger (2012), various aspects motivate police officers to resign from local and state law enforcement positions. Such elements include low rewards and benefits, overpromotion, burnout, and exhaustion. In particular, Bowman et al. (2006) identified that the special agents who moved to the FBI had a low regard for available rewards in their previous law enforcement positions. The only extrinsic reward they considered as valuable was that of benefits. Therefore, they believed that the FBI would offer them higher extrinsic rewards. Similarly, the agents reported that the only intrinsic reward they received from the law enforcement positions was respected, which they believed the honor and opportunity for growth would be higher in the FBI. However, in some cases, officers resign from positions in law enforcement despite having high remuneration and attractive benefits. According to Koch and Nafziger (2012), such instances arise when competent employees are promoted, but their talents do not fit the new role.

In particular, Koch and Nafziger (2012) assert that promotions in some instances lead to workplace stress, which contributes to employee turnover. Mainly, they use the Peter Principle identify overpromotion as one of the aspects causing stress at the workplace. According to their study, Koch and Nafziger (2012) find that promotions worsen the psychological strain of private sector workers, controlling for the endogeneity of health measures with longitudinal data. Notably, overpromotion results because the employer is willing to forgo gains in expected output to lower the limited liability rent she or he has to leave to the employee. Mainly, this reduction makes an employee who is inefficiently assigned to the higher-level job, less satisfied that he or she would be in the old job. However, the employee accepts the promotion since he or she is still earning a limited liability rent. Therefore, the employee prefers the development to being terminated or assignment to less appealing tasks or locations. For example, the FBI had a culture of cutting pay for agents who refuse to accept promotions (Koch & Nafziger, 2012).

Notably, when an employee is promoted to a more challenging job, they have to make up for their lack of talent for the job by exerting more effort that they would in the previous job. Romaine (2014) adds to this notion by stating that often promotions demotivate employees instead of rewarding good performers in the organization. In her study, the Peter Principle says, in a hierarchy, every worker rises to his level of incompetence. In particular, in a system with varying levels of power and responsibility, competent, consistent and committed employees become candidates for promotion. However, as they climb the organizational ladder, they find new challenges in the new jobs. Since the worker is not seen as competent anymore, the promotion ceases, and he remains at this level of incompetence (Romaine, 2014). As DuPlooy and Roodt (2010) argue, the employee suffers from burnout, fatigue, and exhaustion. Notably, many law enforcement agencies continue to ignore this principle. Moreover, failed promotion is detrimental to an employees well-being and a waste of resources for a company....

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