Why would roughly 10 percent of a police force quit every year? That’s the question in Olathe, Kansas, which had 9 percent departure rate last year after 11 percent attrition in 2001, the Kansas City Star reports. The city has 155 sworn officers.
The turnover rate for sworn officers was used last month to make the case for collective bargaining in Olathe. Experts say there is no standard for what is considered acceptable turnover. But they say high turnover has implications for taxpayers because it costs $70,000 to $80,000 to train a new officer.
“To be selected as a recruit, you’ve got to go through a physical, usually a lie-detector test, a drug test and an extensive background check. All of that costs money,” said William Pelfrey of the University of South Carolina.
Police Chief Janet Thiessen has been on the job for a little more than a year. She is charged with easing tensions within the department that date back at least 10 years. Thiessen is Olathe’s third police chief since 1997.
At its current pace, Olathe would have a turnover rate of about 6 percent this year. Thiessen would like to keep turnover below 4 percent.
Police turnover has not been studied extensively. “It’s a function of a lot of factors,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum. “The turnover rate will be a function of the job market, the opportunities available and whatever incentives the department may or may not have.”