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The Biggest Challenge in Law Enforcement: Retention and Recruitment



The Biggest Challenge in Law Enforcement: Retention and Recruitment

The supply of police officers is in disequilibrium, with official records and crime charts demonstrating a slow rise in crime rates in the United States.

Homicide numbers peaked in 2020 and 2021, but the numbers have nevertheless been staggering in the current year, with the first half of 2022 recording a steep 39% increase. The bad guys are on the rise, but the opposition is outnumbered. Law enforcement needs drastic measures to deal with the growing crime rate and recruitment and retention of police officers as their biggest concerns.

Why is that so?

Demand and supply

Fundamentals… if there is a demand for a particular service, the supply needs to keep up to avoid instability and market failure.

Today, the United States is facing a scarcity of law enforcement personnel.

States such as Atlanta, Portland, Seattle, and Dallas, alongside many others, have reportedly been coping with staff shortages due to increased retirements and resignations. 

Here are some of the down sights of a police shortage:

  • Overworking:
    A shortage of police officers also means more overtime for those on patrol. This may seem beneficial for officers needing extra work, but it has severe long-term drawbacks. Police officers may experience fatigue, negatively impacting performance and adding stress to their work. Burnouts are also a possible consequence they may face, negatively impacting their mental health and emotional well-being.

Police officers are forced to adapt to situations where they are required to dispense responsibilities from a crisis manager to a social worker which only leads to an impasse – the fewer the workers, the more exhausted officers on duty.

  • Health:
    Overworked police officers can experience drastic setbacks to their health. There are chances of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), high blood pressure, and an overwhelming increase in stress hormones that can affect the decision-making and the overall longevity of the officer.
  • A vicious cycle:

An amalgamation of the abovementioned issues can only result in more resignations, adding to US law enforcement agencies woes and creating a vicious cycle that needs immediate attention.

Hence ensuring the retention of serving police officers and fresh recruitment of new officials is all the more necessary.

Justice both ways

This begs the question, why is such a shortage in the first place?

In New York, police officer resignations are up by 71 percent, whereas, in Austin, Texas, retirements, and resignations were up 100 percent in 2021.

However, one of the biggest reasons explaining the harrowing statistics is the mistreatment of cops throughout America.

The George Floyd protests became a global phenomenon with an astronomical outrage shunning US law enforcement. The public outcry was vocal, and since then, police officers have been demonized by the media regardless of their service to society.

Parents are having second thoughts about sending their children off to training for fear of being a victim of public scrutiny. The police violence has risen, with 210 police officers shot this year. 

Boston has reported having appointed police officers in 24-hour shifts working them to the bone due to shortages.


If the United States aims to fight off criminal activity in the country successfully, the police force must be bolstered, which can only happen when their rights are fulfilled. The public and law enforcement needs to be on the same page to establish a strong foundation for the US criminal justice system.

Author James Buie talks more about how the United States can flourish as a nation if the differences between law enforcement and people are resolved by building an environment of trust. He raises awareness for both sides to collaborate and cooperate to reduce the crime rate and resolve all differences. 

To learn more, check out From the Ground Up by clicking on the link below!

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