"What recommendations do you have to improve police recruitment and retention at our agency?"
Police lieutenant assessment questions pertaining to recruitment and retention have been prevalent over the past few years. As you are moving from sergeant to lieutenant you may not see what you can do directly to impact recruitment and retention, after all, many factors pertaining to working conditions and benefits are out of your control now – and will remain out of your control once you are promoted to lieutenant. That said, when asked police lieutenant assessment questions pertaining to recruitment and retention, you will set yourself apart if you go beyond focusing on what you know about the topic and add the steps you will be taking to have a larger impact on this important issue.
Here’s my answer to this recruitment and retention question:
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-Promoted to Lieutenant in Massachusetts
Recruitment and Retention
“The recruitment and retention of police officers is a current challenge at our police department and at many other departments. As a sergeant, I live with this challenge day in and day out. Often we do not have the needed staffing for a shift and we are compelling officers to work overtime. Because this has been happening for a while now, this forced overtime is creating lower morale and increased burnout. Obviously, these are issues of concern.
I’ll break down my recruitment and retention recommendations into two major areas: those that will be within my direct control as a lieutenant and those outside of my control. I will start with the latter.
Major areas that I believe will improve recruitment and retention but that are outside of my control are in the areas of benefits, media generated public opinion, and the rapidly changing police environment. It makes sense that competitive pay, medical insurance, and retirement benefits are attractive to personnel, both present and prospective. When any of these are deficient as compared to neighboring agencies, our agency becomes less attractive. And while I put media generated public opinion and the rapidly changing police environment into areas outside of my control, I also recognize there are things that I have been doing as a sergeant and will continue to do as a lieutenant to have a positive impact in those areas.
I recognize that my effectiveness in my leadership role can have an impact on both recruitment and retention. As for recruitment, it comes down to assuring that our agency is portrayed as a positive and desirable place to work. As for retention it comes down to officers feeling valued. It has often been said that workers do not quit their employers, they quit their bosses. Here is how I expect to influence these areas as a lieutenant.
I will engage with our public information officer frequently to provide that person with positive content that can be disseminated through either social media, mainstream media, or both. Certainly, social media gives us the opportunity to send unfiltered messages to the public and our personnel that highlights the good work being done and to put us in a positive light. To the extent that we can be seen positively in the mainstream media as well, that becomes a bonus for us as a department. This can have our department seen by those who are considering a police career as the most desirable agency to work for. I will also reinforce to my personnel – officers, sergeants, and civilians – that external conversations both on and off duty that show pride in our agency can have a positive impact on public opinion. This is something that I have been committed to for years and something that I will continue to model as a lieutenant. It essentially turns every member of our department into a recruiter rather than just relying on a few to attract the masses.
With regards to retention, I ‘ll be a good leader. A leader who cares about his employees, is clear with consistent expectations, treats employees fairly while holding them accountable to their responsibilities, and challenges them to be their best while being there to support them as they navigate the frequently changing environment of policing. I’ll be the leader that has them wanting to stay, not the one that gives them a reason to leave.
I see recruitment and retention as primarily a people, rather than resources, issue. We see many officers leaving one department to go to another department. We need to study the departments that are doing the best job in attracting personnel and emulate what they are doing well. In my experience, this often comes down to a department that lateral transfers see as a premier department – one that they are proud to belong to. I will do my best to influence that sense of pride in my personnel so that is the message that they are confidently spreading externally.
And those are my recommendations on how I can impact recruitment and retention as a lieutenant.”