The Time to (re)Vision Law Enforcement Recruitment is Now

By Ben Gorban and Dan Odom

It has been widely documented that law enforcement is in a recruitment and retention crisis. For several years, law enforcement agencies at all levels have struggled to recruit, hire, and retain qualified personnel to fill their diminishing ranks. Professional associations, academia, and media outlets have all highlighted the severity of the challenges individual agencies and the profession as a whole have faced recently.

The Guidehouse (re)Vision™ approach is a unique change-management process that goes beyond typical tactics to promote successful and sustainable transformations. The (re)Vision™ approach is intended to support an organization through the entire trajectory of a change. Applied to law enforcement recruiting, the approach entails:

  • (re)Search—Know Where You Are: Truly understanding where your agency is and what it needs is the first step of a successful recruitment effort. Answering some fundamental questions about your agency and the community you serve can help determine: Who are your key stakeholders, partners, and stakeholders—the ones you need so you can be effective in your job? What is being said about your agency, particularly by the groups in the community you serve? What are the biggest challenges your agency faces on a regular basis? Does every recruit need to be a sworn officer? Can you identify opportunities to expand the applicant pool by recruiting people with technology, business operations/management, legal, public/behavioral health, marketing, international relations, and other backgrounds? The answers to these questions should help identify where your agency is and the types of individuals you should be focused on recruiting.
  • (re)Imagine—Envision Your Future: Once your agency identifies its primary needs, what is the next step to create an ideal future for your agency? Using your vision statement and strategic plan as the foundation, brainstorm what your ideal agency would be. Every idea, whether bad, good, or excellent, should be considered. Once your agency has examined those ideas, how will you recruit people who can help you attain that vision? You don’t want just an ad campaign. You want people who can embody and create the best elements of it.
  • (re)Align—Build the Solution: Do your recruitment materials (e.g., flyers, social media, events) truly align with your mission and vision? Is your recruiting message more about salary, benefits, and hiring tactics than your commitment to police-community relations and public safety? If your agency is only marketing itself as a source of income and health insurance, that doesn’t meaningfully contribute to achieving the future you or your community envisioned, nor build the culture you’re striving for.
  • (re)Engage—Deliver Impact: Engage newer employees in order to learn what drove them to your agency, what worked and what didn’t in the onboarding process, and what is most important to them as they reach key career milestones. Engage the more tenured employees so they understand the types of recruits your agency is looking for and so they can help in the recruitment process. Engage council and oversight board members, and a variety of community leaders, to enhance buy-in and drive understanding, expectations, and recognition of what will be needed in the future. When the agency, the government, and the community are engaged in the recruitment process, there is a greater likelihood that all parties will appreciate the new employees and that the new employees will be committed in return.
  • (re)Inforce—Review and Iterate: Based on qualitative and quantitative assessments of internal and external surveys, strive to identify ways to address the new needs of the recruitment strategy. Work with the relevant stakeholders to identify ways to enhance police-community relations and update the recruitment strategy to attract people who meet those needs. Your process should measure impacts, determine how to use feedback to build your culture, and report on the actions your agency is taking to enhance itself and the services you provide to the community.

For more information about the (re)Vision™ approach, how its implementation can help recruitment in your agency, and the array of recruitment and change-management strategies that Guidehouse can help execute in your agency, visit www.Guidehouse.com.

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