Police recruitment and retention woes are increasing – here’s how your agency can respond

Policing during a pandemic calls for workforce management systems that keep every officer in the know


Sponsored by PlanIt

By Police1 BrandFocus Staff

As coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S., police departments are changing the way they manage staff and recruit personnel. With social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders in place, agencies are having to rethink their employee recruitment and retention practices and get creative.

While some agencies may have a plan to deal with staffing during a crisis, those without a plan face a bumpy road ahead. (image/Getty)
While some agencies may have a plan to deal with staffing during a crisis, those without a plan face a bumpy road ahead. (image/Getty)

Portland Police Bureau in Oregon officer Patrick Johnson said what drew him to becoming a recruiter for his agency was the social and community outreach aspect of the job. Traditionally, the department would host hiring workshops and coffee chats with college and high school students to attract talent to a career law enforcement, but with the onset of COVID-19, the department went fully virtual with its recruiting efforts.

“A lot of recruiting practices now you can either do online or over the phone, and for us it’s about informing a lot of people that we’re accepting applications,” said Johnson, who has worked in law enforcement for 12 years. “The process for applying is still the same – it’s just that how we communicate has changed.”

That meant relying more on social media platforms like Facebook to host live Q&A sessions and posting recruitment videos and messages to promote awareness that police operations are still ongoing, despite the nationwide slowdown amid the pandemic. The agency found a lot of success with these virtual Q&A sessions.

Pandemic adds pressure to staffing shortages

For many agencies, staff shortages are nothing new, and the pandemic is only adding to the problem. A 2019 report from the Police Executive Research Forum on police recruitment and retention issues found that 41% of officers surveyed said the shortage of the number of full-time sworn officers had increased over the past five years.

Although many factors contribute to an officer’s decision to shorten their tenure on the force, the report also found that agencies need to address the growing role of technology in officers’ job descriptions.

Whether for investigating crime or to manage their schedules, officers need to feel like they have the proper support and tools to do their jobs. None of these realities have changed since the pandemic – in fact, they’re becoming even more apparent as departments struggle to fill policing positions.

Support officers by stepping up communications

While some agencies may have a plan to deal with staffing during a crisis, those without a plan face a bumpy road ahead. One solution is for agencies to step up their communications and operations plans for staff with tools that instantly notify officers in real-time of shift details and critical announcements, such as last-minute changes or emergency staffing needs.

Imagine having one of your agency’s officers testing positive for coronavirus. The impact can have a ripple effect across your department. How do you easily scan shift schedules and identify gaps to fill? How do you inform officers of critical safety communications in real-time?

Improve shift scheduling with a purpose-built tool

A flexible workforce management system can alleviate a lot of these headaches and prevent lost hours that are spent on scheduling woes. Just ask Chief Morber of the Barberton Police Department in Ohio, which led the department’s switch to PlanIt Police, an online scheduling and communications system built for law enforcement.  

Chief Morber says he was impressed by PlanIt’s affordability and ease of use. Since BPD launched the tool, it helps officers keep up with their ever-changing schedules and promotes transparency within the department.

Modernize your agency’s operations to attract and retain fresh talent by using available technology to reach out to recruits and to manage your existing officers more effectively. PlanIt can help ease the strain of emergency staffing by helping to ensure that every officer knows where they need to be and when.”

Get more info from PlanIt Police.

Read next: How Ohio’s ‘Magic City’ PD helped officers regain control of their schedules

 

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