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Criminal Justice


Both criminal justice researchers and practitioners have suspected that generational preferences and the nature of police patrol work have acted as dual forces leading potential police recruits away from police careers, resulting in large numbers of unfilled police positions. This challenge is exacerbated by accelerating retirements and expanding police duties. Police recruitment became an even larger managerial issue after the 2008 recession failed to resolve the most critical factor driving people away from police careers in the first place: police departments saw fewer and fewer qualified applicants, despite the recession bringing more applicants in number. In the wake of the 2008 recession, attention has turned to generational preferences of post-Millennials and the potential incompatibility of their career expectations with the realities of police patrol work (Haggerty, 2009; Morison, 2017; Orrick, 2008; PERF, 2010; Wilson et al., 2010).

Little research has been conducted from the demand, or applicant, side of this critical workforce management issue facing police departments, especially as public demands for accountability and police legitimacy are escalating. This research project addresses this critical question, and the results inform police leaders as to how better to market and recruit future officers more effectively while balancing community demands and budgetary realities. Additionally, it furthers workforce management theoretical perspectives on the nature and character of human resources dynamics among post- Millennials.

This research project utilizes a survey questionnaire distributed to college students enrolled in criminal justice courses to gauge reaction to prompted statements regarding their perception of the police profession, the application process, contemporary public demands of police officers, and initial police training. Survey results detail “fear points” regarding these expectations. The sample is composed of undergraduate students at the following institutions: The University of Southern Mississippi, Illinois State University, Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis, University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Missouri State University. Participant responses gauge student expectations of a police career, examining their consideration of such a career. This data helps inform practitioner strategies for recruitment of post-Millennial generations.



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