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5 steps that will improve law enforcement retention

Departments must be creative, and leaders must be innovative

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Last year, the media was abuzz about “The Great Resignation.” You read the headlines: Over 4 million Americans quit their jobs every month starting in August 2021.

Most of these folks didn’t work in law enforcement. But law enforcement agencies felt the pinch, too, with double-digit increases in both resignations and retirements.

But what about the people who’ve stayed the course or still want to work in one of the noblest professions? How do we retain them? Departments must be creative, and leaders must be innovative.

If you’re in a leadership role at your agency, here are five suggestions:

  1. Make sure you’re connected and engaged with your people. A 2021 Gallup poll found that 43% of employees who left their jobs told a coworker about their intent to leave. This doesn’t just happen in a vacuum folks.
  2. Be empathetic. This doesn’t mean handing out participation trophies to everyone. It does mean listening to your people’s concerns and openly receiving their feedback. Good communication is essential.
  3. Empower your people. Identify creative solutions to common problems. Personalize the workload to the extent possible. Leverage their strengths.
  4. Encourage and inspire your personnel by recognizing their accomplishments.
  5. Help struggling employees. Take time to listen and help them realize their potential. Career development is a huge factor in retention.

Our line of work is very policy-driven, which is often anything but personal. But you can hold your people accountable while still being a mentor and attending to their needs.

According to that same Gallup poll, 52% of departing employees said their manager or the organization could have done something to prevent their departure.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Engage with your people now. Both your agency and the community depend on it!

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off.

Get more tips from Gordon here.

Gordon Graham has been actively involved in law enforcement since 1973. He spent nearly 10 years as a very active motorcycle officer while also attending Cal State Long Beach to achieve his teaching credential, USC to do his graduate work in Safety and Systems Management with an emphasis on Risk Management, and Western State University to obtain his law degree. In 1982 he was promoted to sergeant and also admitted to the California State Bar and immediately opened his law offices in Los Angeles.