Millennials: Adapting Police Recruiting and Supervision Practices




Hubbard, Timothy

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



The law enforcement profession across the country is suffering from difficulties recruiting and retaining qualified officers. There are likely many factors contributing to the problem. A factor many consider to be having a significant effect is the change of demographics of the job applicant pool with the rise of the millennial generation in the workforce. With millennials being the largest generation since the baby boomers, they will make up more of the workforce as the last of the boomers retire and Generation X begins retiring. It is incumbent upon organizations to modify supervisory practices to account for the different priorities of the millennial generation to keep them engaged. Otherwise, they will switch employers looking for a better fit. The millennial generational cohort differs from earlier cohorts, such as baby boomers and Generation X, in significant ways. These differences are a based on common circumstances shared by that cohort as they grew up. Many of the differences are at odds with the command and control and strong hierarchy traditionally associated with law enforcement organizations. Some feel millennials should conform to the traditional law enforcement paradigm just as all others have because of the assertion that law enforcement’s objectives cannot be met if supervisory and leadership practices change to support their expectations. However, many of the needs of this generation are more consistent with contemporary leadership practices outside law enforcement. Unquestionably, this generation will soon take over the workforce. Therefore, to recruit and retain quality officers, organizations must adapt and adopt leadership practices more aligned with the needs and expectations of the incoming millennial generation.


Police--Recruiting, Police--Selection and Retention, Intergenerational Relations