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November 17, 2021 | View as webpage | Too many emails? Update Subscription Preferences


It may not seem possible, but the calendar doesn’t lie. There are just 45 days left in 2021! As the Police1 team gears up to launch our year in review coverage next month, we encourage you to add some last-minute items to your 2021 to-do list:

► Answer our poll on the biggest challenges facing LE in 2021. (Plus, email editor@police1.com to let us know what we missed.)

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Stay safe,

— Nancy Perry  
Editor-in-Chief, Police1


What can police leaders do about murder?
By Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D. 

Using FBI figures, there were 21,570 murders in 2020, up 29% from 16,669 in 2019. A quick calculation rounds to 4,900 more murder victims since the last FBI annual calculation. 2021 totals won’t be released until near the end of next year. They will be frightening, based on current trends.

Keep in mind that the total murder numbers are not the highest in a century, but the increase from year to year is record-setting. From a peak in 1991, the murder rate was in a general sharp trend of decline until 2014, after which each succeeding year has shown an increase in murders.

Criminologists have the luxury of time to ponder over statistics and try to identify variables associated with the rise and fall of crime rates. As with any social research, those variables are too many to measure. Is it employment rates? Weather? Politics? What about factors like fatigue, stress and isolation – in other words, COVID? Can we measure hopelessness and fear?

Some analysts, like this writer, see the decline in trust and respect for law enforcement as associated with the rise in violent crime. Ferguson was near the end of 2014 and no year has passed since without the anti-police sentiment being fueled by mainstream and social media.

Those in the "mistrust and defund the police" movement cannot bring themselves to correlate this sentiment with crime. With a fundamental belief that police are the problem, reducing the number of police officers available to actively intervene in criminal activity simply doesn’t fit the formula of increased violence. Therefore causation theories include the COVID mess and mental illness, unemployment, the increase in firearms sales (hardly a statistically significant increase in the total number of persons owning firearms), and even climate change.

Looking at the drop in crime following the high crime rates of the 1980s, the historic anti-crime legislation of the 1990s should be given a great deal of credit for the dramatic lowering of crime rates. Some criminologists simply attribute lower crime and increased crime-fighting legislation (including increasing the number of police officers) to the “fedupness” of the populace with crime. We may be on the cusp of such a backlash as we see dramatic reversals in defunding and restrictions on policing.

What can police leaders do about murder? Here are four strategies: 

  1. Know your local statistics and communicate that to your public. Murder rates are not evenly distributed, and your community may be in good shape.
  2. Make the logical and statistical case for more officers and more proactive policing.
  3. Trust in law enforcement is correlated with crime rates from both an occurrence and reporting perspective. Do whatever it takes to be trustworthy.
  4. Do great police work. One of the sad correlates to the rising murder rate is the lowering clearance rates. Solve those cases, from misdemeanors to murder.

NEXT: Peter Moskos on strategies to reduce violent crime

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Building a diverse workforce in law enforcement

By Jane Wiseman

A worker shortage is sweeping the nation, and law enforcement is no exception. Across the country, law enforcement agencies struggle to recruit, hire and retain police officers for reasons that span social, economic and political factors. [1] Compounding the problem, in some departments, officers are retiring at a faster rate than they are being replaced.

The events following the murder of George Floyd made police hiring more complex as it exacerbated tension between the community and law enforcement and inflamed long-standing beliefs that racial biases exist within the profession. To help address these tensions, law enforcement leaders may want to diversify their organizations – but this is no easy task even before such recent events.

My team reviewed recent scholarly research for relevant insight and surfaced four recommendations (Note: the research was funded by the Massachusetts State Police/Executive Office of Public Safety and Security). [2]

1. Attract a greater volume of qualified candidates

Successful recruitment in law enforcement today is possible but requires effort, experimentation and commitment to continuous improvement of approaches. 

In addition to expanding traditional pathways like internships and partnerships with criminal justice programs, departments can begin to look at nontraditional disciplines, such as foreign language programs, technology-centric schools, and hospitality or management programs that offer potential recruits with skills needed to better relations with communities, improve analytics and foster a culture of customer service.

2. Recruit more women and people of color

According to the Police Executive Research Forum, “trying to recruit and hire only candidates who have the same life experiences and outlooks as those currently in the profession is a recipe for failure.”

Successful recruiting of women and people of color can be achieved by:

  • Creating targeted outreach programs to reach diverse audiences
  • Using targeted digital marketing
  • Ensuring prospective candidates can see themselves in the role
  • Reviewing job postings and messaging for unintended language biases
  • Providing support to applicants from diverse backgrounds
  • Considering modifications to physical fitness requirements
  • Screening out candidates who exhibit biases
  • Assessing organizational culture for any barriers to belonging
  • Strengthening policies that prohibit harassment.

3. Retain more candidates during the selection process

Law enforcement recruitment hiring processes can be lengthy and convoluted, forcing many good candidates to simply give up and take other jobs. Strategies to facilitate retention of more candidates during selection include:

  • Designing a user-centric process
  • One-on-one support via mentors or advisors
  • Targeted support at steps of the application when candidates are most likely to drop out
  • Coaching so candidates can pass fitness exams
  • Streamlining steps and leveraging technology modernization to cut down hiring time
  • Giving candidates visibility into their status in the hiring process.

4. Ease pressure on recruiting with less attrition and new staffing models

In most cases, retaining existing officers takes far fewer resources than identifying, screening, selecting and training new ones – and it takes the pressure off the recruiting function.

Research-based ways to reduce attrition include giving recruits a realistic job preview before they start, conducting exit interviews to understand and common reasons for leaving, and conducting “stay” interviews to understand key motivations for staff who stay employed.

For some agencies, rethinking deployment models may uncover creative ways to simultaneously improve morale and professionalism while decreasing churn. Scholars Whetstone, Reed and Turner suggest creating a training model akin to the one utilized in the medical field with a standard set of rotations among specialties to be completed in the first three years of service and then allowing staff to choose their specialty.

Finally, a careful review of tasks that can be automated or completed by using remote work options, along with examining roles that can be filled by contracted, part-time, non-sworn, or seasonal staff can modernize the approach to staffing, recruitment and retention within the law enforcement workforce.


A more diverse police force will take time, but incremental progress can gradually shift an organization with annual progress toward ambitious goals. 

Diversity hiring goals should be clear and visibly supported by the chief, and accountability for reaching those goals should be vested in a respected senior leader. Partnership with key community stakeholders must be a key part of the strategy.

This is a once-in-a-generation chance to energize the profession toward renewed connection to and investment in the public good via embracing inclusivity and creating a more diverse team. Communities just may respond in kind with greater trust and confidence.


1. IACP. The state of recruitment: A crisis for law enforcement

2. The full review of recent scholarly literature can be found here, and the policymaker summary can be found here.

NEXT: 5 takeaways for police recruiters from the ‘Who wants to be a cop?’ series

About the author

Jane Wiseman is the CEO of the Institute for Excellence in Government, a non-profit consulting firm dedicated to improving government performance. She is also an Innovations in Government Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School. She has served as an appointed official in government and as a financial advisor and consultant to government. Her consulting, research and writing focus on government innovation and data-driven decision-making. 

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3. Evolving strategies to win the war on opioids: Download Police1’s latest eBook in which we explore how law enforcement agencies are using data to address their response to the opioid crisis.

2. A new approach to opioid overdose cases: Collaborating with healthcare providers while getting tough on drug dealers is helping save lives in Seminole County, Florida.

1. Using digital forensics to gain drug intelligence: With the constant threat of newly emerging drugs, it is critical law enforcement develops a common operation picture of the drug landscape.
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