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Topic Summary - Recruitment for Public Safety Agencies

Topic Summary - Recruitment for Public Safety Agencies

Center for Policing Excellence



The difficulties of recruitment are a well-recognized issue in the public safety community for both police and corrections agencies. In recent years, a shortage of qualified applicants has been identified as a main difficulty. Effective recruitment strategies include a clear vision of the agency’s brand and ideal candidate, as well as community input in what they, as community members, believe is a desirable candidate.



Future force: A guide to building the 21st century community corrections workforce

This report stems from a workgroup sponsored by the National Institute of Corrections and is available via the PDF link provided above. Below are a collection of important points that may apply to present and future recruitment practices of the Oregon DOC. Chapter Three, “Recruitment – Looking in the Right Places for the Right People” is specifically of interest.

  • Finding new applicants has been reported by approximately 86% of employers as “difficult.”

  • The difficulty often lies in the prevalence of organizational models that do not appeal to the newest generation of workers.

  • Word of Mouth is one of the most effective recruitment techniques, so a department’s reputation can either be an asset or serious liability.

  • Millennials tend to be self-sufficient, self-assured, and more self-focused. This up and coming workforce is looking for jobs that “encompass all of the nonmonetary aspects of the job – flexibility, autonomy, family friendliness, challenge, self-satisfaction, career development, and upward advancement.”

  • Consider the “Where” question in regards to finding new applicants:

    • Colleges & Universities
    • High Schools
    • Military/Veterans
    • Social Media
  • Consider tracking where applicants were recruited to determine effectiveness of recruitment tactics.

Citation: Stinchcomb, J. B., McCampbell, S. W., & Layman, E. P. (2006). Future force: A guide to building the 21st century community corrections workforce. Center for Innovative Public Policies.

Police recruitment and retention in the Contemporary Urban environment

This is a summary of a National Summit on Police Recruitment and Retention in the Contemporary Urban Environment put on by the COPS office in June 2008. A number of examples are provided regarding recruitment strategies used by agencies around the nation.

  • Online:

    • Using the internet to advertise, including a recruitment website that included an online application process and videos on academy life and public safety careers.
    • Regular e-mail on the progress of applications
    • Streamlined application process that cut down on the time from application to hire.
    • When visiting website, users should have no problem figuring out if you are hiring, understand goals, standards, candidate requirements and selection, as well as wages and benefit packages (Recruitment Toolkit)
  • School-based:

    • After-school and Summer employment for students interested in police work
    • Post-high school employment as civilian employees
    • Support for college education in exchange for a commitment to the department
    • Partnering with local criminal justice programs
  • Retention-Based:

    • “Stay” interviews with current employee to paint a picture of what officers are looking for and what type of candidate would fit in a stay with the department.
    • Identify internal reasons that negatively affect retention and may also work against successful recruitment.
  • Agency:

    • Recruitment videos that highlight certain aspects of department culture that may appeal to the population an agency is aiming to attract.
    • Marketing strategies that highlight values that are important to both the department and the candidates.
    • Administering exams used in the application process monthly
    • Offering recruitment bonuses to employees, establishing a department recruiting team

Citation: Wilson, J. M., & Grammich, C. A. (2009). Police recruitment and retention in the Contemporary Urban environment. (In Conference Proceedings). Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.

Online Resources

COPS Recruitment Toolkit

IACP Recruitment Resources

Recruiting and Retaining Female Deputies, Oregon Knowledge Bank Program, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office

Website Recruiting Example