Police departments across the country are facing a significant shortage of police officers. The reasons for this police shortage are complex, but the impact is clear: law enforcement departments are struggling with police retention and recruitment. For law enforcement departments struggling with police recruitment and retention, police officer shortage can have serious implications on the community they serve, as well as on the officers themselves.
Here are some tips for police departments dealing with the police shortage:
1. Employ new technology to deal with the police shortage
Technology can help police departments operate more efficiently and effectively. Law enforcement departments should invest in new technology that can automate administrative tasks, improve communication between officers and enhance public safety.
While the needs of police departments vary across the nation, here are examples of technologies that can help your administrators and Chiefs deal with the police shortage in your department:
Invest in law enforcement scheduling software
Police scheduling software is built to withstand the demanding schedules of public safety employees. Scheduling software can save your police department both time and money through automated and intelligent scheduling. Using police scheduling software, your department can monitor overtime, schedule quickly and maintain staffing levels under local requirements.
If your department is experiencing a shortage of police officers, scheduling software will give your Chiefs a bird’s-eye view into where every member of the team is stationed, reducing any chance of miscommunication and further lack of coverage. Implementing scheduling software will also reduce the amount of time spent on creating schedules, filling out timesheets, completing payroll, scheduling overtime and more. With all of this time saved, your short-staffed department can allocate time and resources to other areas that require assistance.
Try using gunshot detection software
If your law enforcement department has a police officer shortage, you might not be able to afford patrol scheduling in every area of the community you serve. For some police departments, investing in gunshot detection software may help reduce patrol coverage, while still being able to respond to crime in the community. Additionally, gunshot detection technologies might be able to improve police officer response times, support evidence-based policing and save lives.
Certain software, such as ShotSpotter, can also help with forensic services and patrol management. ShotSpotter provides precision-policing solutions for law enforcement to deter gun violence and make communities safer. The technology relays information to police about the exact coordinates of the location of a gunshot, the number of bullets fired, the type of gunfire and if the shooter is on the move.
Traffic stops have been proven to be one of the most dangerous law enforcement activities. In the first half of 2018, traffic-related incidents were the cause of more than 36% of officer fatalities. Moreover, it takes an officer between 10-15 minutes to manually fill out a citation, making traffic stops a time-consuming activity for almost every police department.
If your police department is facing a shortage of police officers, you should consider implementing the use of eCitations. By using eCitations, your officers can fill out their citations in two minutes, which will help them complete the task quicker and get them out of harm’s way.
2. Reassess response priorities if you’re facing a police shortage
You can’t be everywhere at the same time. If your police department is dealing with a police shortage, you may need to reconsider your response priorities. Make an operational plan to determine where your resources are needed most. Are routine traffic stops still needed in your community? If not, can you use your traffic unit for another response, or at least cut down the number of officers needed in your traffic unit?
Your department leaders should also look into where the core of the calls are coming from, and where police services are most required. Which service demands must receive a response in your community? If your department is facing a police officer shortage, taking the time to reassess response priorities may free up personnel and important resources.
3. Partner and coordinate with community organizations and local partners if you have a shortage of police officers
Building partnerships with community organizations can help police departments address the root causes of crime and build trust with citizens. This can lead to a safer, more connected community.
In addition to this, law enforcement departments that are facing a shortage of police officers can coordinate with local partners to assist in emergency responses. They can also re-envision and reprioritize emergency responses by creating alternative delivery systems.
In communities that face a police officer shortage, police departments can work with their local municipality to create non-emergency call systems that allow citizens to report minor issues through a separately managed system. Non-emergency call systems minimize the burden on 911 dispatch centers and police officers.
4. Improve police culture to boost police morale
Increasing police recruitment and retention will take more than just paying your officers more. Nowadays, police recruits are looking for a career that can offer them a balanced lifestyle. Make sure those who are leading your police departments are positive leaders. If your police department is currently facing a police shortage, there’s a strong chance your officers are currently being overworked and are overtired. To improve retention within your department, you need to consistently work on maintaining a positive culture within your department.
Focus on transforming your workplace into a place where employees feel supported and cared for. Invest in wellness platforms and other tools that will make your police officers feel happy and looked after, so they can leave their work at work during their time-off.
The bottom line
The police shortage is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted solution. Police departments must focus on both recruiting new officers and retaining existing ones, while also building trust with the community they serve. By implementing these tips, departments can work towards a safer, more effective police force.
Contact our team to learn more about InTime Wellness, and how our scheduling tools and wellness platform can help your department work through the police shortage.