Best Hiring Practices for Police Departments


Finding and hiring great law enforcement candidates is not easy these days. Law enforcement has dropped in popularity as a career choice, which means that the best candidates have the upper hand when it comes to choosing where to apply and what position to accept. To present your department in the best light and attract the best candidates, follow these guidelines for law enforcement hiring.

1. Make an Active Effort to Reach Candidates

Don’t expect candidates to break down your door. The pendulum swings, and currently it is not in the favor of law enforcement recruiters. In order to find the best candidates, you need make an active effort to reach them.

2. ABR: Always Be Recruiting

Even if you are not accepting applications, maintain open lines of communication and attend career fairs—you never know when a chance meeting or email could lead to a great hire. Utilize a tool like PoliceApp’s Recruit Lead Management (RLM) and make it available to community and civic organizations to involve the community in the recruitment process.

3. Make Your Department a Great Place to Work

No one wants to be part of a negative environment. If your department is struggling with internal strife, fixing the causes of the strife should be your number one goal. A bad environment makes recruiting difficult and can cause new hires to quickly look for an exit strategy, which leads to a high attrition rate, which makes filling vacancies difficult. It’s a vicious cycle. If your department has a tarnished reputation, start working to fix it. This is not an easy task, but it’s essential for effectively recruiting new people.

4. Polish Your Department’s Image

If your department is already a great place to work, spread the news! People want to be part of a winning organization, so when a department is a great place to work it’s easy to attract new recruits. Use your website and social media to polish the department’s public image with frequent upbeat updates and photos of your officers at work and interacting with the community. 

5. Accept Online Applications

Today’s applicants have been born and raised in the era of technology. Asking them to complete a paper application is a foreign concept. It would be like asking your officers to complete an accident report on a typewriter—it’s a method that still works, but it would result in some very unhappy officers. An online applicant tracking system like will also benefit the department because it makes it easier for the department to communicate with the applicant, makes it easier to store files, incudes built-in reports, shortens the recruitment cycle, and saves time and money. If you are making the transition to an online applicant tracking system, make sure it’s mobile friendly, because 60% of your applicants will complete their application on their phone.

6. Include Easy to Follow Instructions

Is your job announcement clear and concise? Applying for a law enforcement position has a lot more steps and requirements than the average job, and candidates are likely to get discouraged if the process is difficult or confusing. For more information on what to include in the job announcement as well as CALEA compliance, see our blog post How to Write an Effective Police Department Job Announcement. Provide a hiring schedule so that applicants have an understanding to the hiring process. This helps to alleviate some of the concerns that applicants have. Applicants who are new to the police hiring process may not understand that the process can take 3 months to a year.

7. Stay in Touch with Applicants Throughout the Process

Communication and process updates are appreciated by the applicant and are a sign of respect. Remember, respect is a two-way street and the best, most qualified applicants will likely have multiple opportunities. The way they are treated by your department will be one of the factors they use to make their decision. Because of this, CALEA recommends communicating with your applicants throughout the entire process and making them aware of their status in a timely manner. An online applicant tracking system like PoliceApp makes communication easy. You no longer need to stuff and seal envelopes to communicate with your applicants, and you can be sure you’re doing all you can to keep candidates interested.

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