Fewer Recruits are Joining Law Enforcement

It’s no surprise that law enforcement recruitment numbers are dwindling among the recent violent protests and officer involved shootings across the country, but there is finally data to support the concept.


With the exception of large and notorious departments such as the Dallas police department, which saw a 250 percent increase in applications the month after a lone gunman shot five officers during a Black Lives Matters protest, many smaller agencies are reporting a decline in the number of recruits over an extended period of years. These smaller agencies are reporting nearly a 50 percent reduction.

The reasoning is likely due to a number of factors that create a bit of a “perfect storm” scenario.

The Right Candidate

Before an individual can be hired, they must be vetted to ensure that they’re the right candidate for the job. Law enforcement is a field that is held to a higher standard than most other professions due to the sensitive nature of the job. The only insurance that such candidate is capable of achieving such a high standard requires that they participate in a lengthy evaluation of character, verification, and training before ever even starting to patrol.

Dangerous Job

Even if a person qualifies as a candidate, it doesn’t mean that they’re willing to put their life on the line daily to protect and serve the community. The duties of a typical patrol officer often involve conflict and requires that an officer stay calm and in control during intense incidents under pressure. Many people are simply not up for the challenge, particularly when the pay and benefits conferred are undervalued.

Recent Events

However, if an agency can find the right candidate that is up for the task of protecting and serving their community, the recent events across the country over the last few years have increased the level of tension between specific communities and police departments making potential recruits skeptical as to whether this is something they want to interject themselves into. Nobody can really blame a person for looking at all angles of the situation and the consequences that may occur.

Nonetheless, the dwindling of numbers is necessarily something we should be concerned about. It only becomes a problem if there is a decrease in the quality of candidates applying to departments. In fact, it may be exactly what is needed to streamline the recruitment process to find the perfect candidate.

David Firester is the founder of TRAC Intelligence.”