Police job applications decrease at most U.S. departments

Interest in becoming a police officer is down 66 percent nationwide

By Police1 Staff

WASHINGTON — Interest in becoming a police officer has decreased significantly in the U.S. within the past few years.

According to The Washington Post, hiring and retention have become more difficult for departments nationwide because of perceptions of policing and media scrutiny. After the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) surveyed nearly 400 U.S. departments, they found nearly 66 percent said their applicants have decreased and 29 percent of police officers who left their job voluntarily exited after less than a year on the force.

During a gathering of 250 law enforcement executives, many agreed that recruiting for diversity is a problem. Officials believe incidents of police misconduct spread through social media, poor treatment of officers in communities and the lack of inclusivity has damaged the brand and is the cause of the decline.

Some departments have lowered the requirement of college degrees, eased up on tattoo policies and relaxed policies on prior drug use to help recruitment effort.

Chuck Wexler, executive director of PERF, theorized some decline may be from retirements of 100,000 officers hired during an initiative by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Other theories include the economy and validation for the job.

“Number one is validation,” Seattle Deputy Police Chief Marc Garth Green said. “The validation that they’re putting their life on the line. There’s no respect for that.”

Whatever reason for the lack of officers, departments are struggling to keep the number of full-time, sworn officers per 1,000 U.S. residents consistent.

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