The Shortfall of Qualified Applicants and the Generational Implications that Impact Law Enforcement
Law enforcement agencies across the United States are experiencing a reduction of qualified applicants for the entry level police officer position. This is a growing concern not only among law enforcement executives but also many citizens within the community. Many factors have been discussed and researched as to the possible cause of the growing disinterest in a law enforcement career. Some of the more cited reasons are negative media coverage surrounding use of force incidents with minorities, change in societal values and beliefs, and the growing millennial generation entering the workforce. If this growing problem is not addressed, the communities will begin to suffer by seeing an increase in crime and slower response times to calls for service. In order for police agencies to accomplish their missions of public safety, law enforcement executives must begin to explore innovative strategies and potential policy changes based on the changes of societal values and beliefs. Two areas that can be explored and evaluated are visible tattoos and the effects of legalized marijuana on police recruitment. Law enforcement executives must recognize that the values of the communities in which they serve are evolving rapidly, and, thus, changing the dynamics of law enforcement interactions; therefore, agencies must begin to adapt to these societal shifts. Ignoring these changes and continuing to adhere to a rigid or traditional approach may prove to be detrimental to recruitment and retention efforts. Chief law enforcement executives should begin to explore and examine the growing changes in society and weigh the cost of modifying polices to more closely reflect the new societal views to attract new law enforcement recruits.