Is National Police Hiring Binge Lowering Standards?


Police departments are trying to lure new applicants with signing bonuses, eased standards, house down payments, and extra vacation time, says the Washington Post. More than 80 percent of the nation’s 17,000 law enforcement agencies, big and small, have vacancies that many can’t fill, police officials estimate. “I was just at a conference of police chiefs,” said Los Angeles chief William Bratton, who has 720 openings. “It was all everybody was talking about.”

A confluence of demographic changes and social trends have precipitated the shortage. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have siphoned off public-service-minded people to the military. Many law enforcement officers have handed in their badges to take higher-paying positions in the booming homeland security industry. Each year an increasingly large number of baby-boomer officers, hired in the 1970s, retires. Experts said that while they hope the inherently conservative nature of law enforcement agencies will protect against a slew of bad hires, there is a concern that with a smaller pool of applicants, less-qualified people are becoming officers. Said President Hubert Williams of the Police Foundation, a law enforcement advocacy group: “A few years ago, an arrest record was a deal breaker. Now departments are asking whether someone is salvageable.”


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