Like any workplace, a revolving door of new employees creates stress. This is the same for local police departments looking to retain good police officers and repair their relationship with the public. For some people who may have thought of a career in law enforcement, their hearts and minds may have changed dramatically after a summer of unrest and news of bad apple cops causing harm and death to the citizens they are meant to serve. Some police departments have found themselves in the public and media spotlight and have seen small exoduses of their officers. For good cops who are already employed, they may be rethinking if it’s worth it to stay on the force.
This is why it’s essential for police department leadership to implement strategies to keep police officers happy while also rethinking the way they hire. Hiring and training quality candidates and keeping them on the force for years to come can help ensure better performance among employees while also enhancing the force’s integrity among the communities they serve.
Law enforcement can be a thankless job on some days, so law leaders need to express appreciation to personnel. The results of good police work are indefinable, but that doesn’t make them any less critical.
Leaders can show their appreciation and recognize a job well done with a commendation letter or encourage peer recognition through Officer of the Month selections.
Leaders can also reward employees and their families with performance awards that don’t have to be expensive. Instead, they can speak from the heart and show that officers are valued and vital to their department and community’s health.
Integrity is a crucial part of the hiring process, bringing on good-natured but useful police officers. Integrity has to be immaculate and in an officer’s blood. Virtue cannot be taught. Interpersonal communication skills can also help find the best person for the job as officers must possess empathy and be effective in working with people. While officers shouldn’t depend only on their sincerity or interpersonal skills, it can help when it comes to de-escalation efforts.
It is also important for departments to offer their staff ongoing training opportunities to help keep their minds sharp and their skills in line. Policing is an ever-changing industry and role. New technologies, case laws, crime trends, and public expectations all play a part in an officer’s daily job. There is always something to learn, so it’s essential to keep officers learning and growing in their role.
Police officers benefit from challenges and growth, so helping them continue to learn and grow in their field can help their overall professional development. Organizations offer training in many specialized investigative areas, including drug enforcement or K-9, and can inspire officers to move toward a future in their field.
For officers looking to move beyond local careers or traffic control, departments should provide training or partner with organizations that hold training sessions to enhance their careers and expand their knowledge. Online classes, trade shows, virtual workshops, and seminars can all help keep officers engaged and motivated to do what’s right in their daily tasks.
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