New Attitudes for Successful Law Enforcement Recruitment in 2023

You will struggle to fill your ranks if your recruiting methods are the same as they were 20 years ago when 600 applicants competed for eight vacancies. Things are different now; your recruiting strategies should be too.

Law enforcement recruitment requires constant work, and the first step toward success begins with bringing a new attitude toward the effort. No matter your position in your department, from the day you swore in, you were tasked with recruiting new officers.

Set the Budget and Goals

Nothing worth doing well comes without a cost. The first step, which is determining your recruitment budget, sets the tone for the next steps. Your department should begin by using its data to evaluate its current recruiting efforts and what kind of results it’s getting. Learn where your agency is currently spending recruiting and hiring resources. Add up the financial and manpower costs of each effort. Now calculate the cost per applicant and per hire. Which efforts are most efficient?

Read More: How Results-Driven Recruiting Will Help Your Agency Hire Cops

Contact Us for a Free Consultation on Your Recruitment Goals

Be Website and Google Ready

A website focused on recruitment will showcase every employment opportunity at your department, your people, and your benefits all in one spot. Is your recruiting and hiring website user-friendly? Mobile friendly? Does it look like a Fortune 500 company jobs page or a neuroscience research paper? Your home or landing page should be easy to navigate with the “Apply Now” and “Get in Touch” action buttons. No one should have to scroll nine times to apply. Plus, websites that look great on every device are search engine optimized and ready to drive interest and application from qualified prospective officers.

Learn More About Having a Fully-Responsive Website

Update Your Media, Prepare Your Messages

Look at the recruiting flyers from the most successful companies in the world. You won’t find one with 800 words in a bulleted format with intermittent bold, underlined, and highlighted content. Every agency has unique needs and communities to attract new officers. From websites to videos, geo-targeted fenced ads to billboards, highly optimized search to social media, identify the best channels for your marketing program. 

You will struggle to fill your ranks if your recruiting methods are the same as they were 20 years ago when 600 applicants competed for eight vacancies. Things are different now; your recruiting strategies should be too.

Your agency needs a consistent recruitment message that all employees should know by heart. This message should have the forms of a two-minute elevator pitch, an hour-long presentation, and everything in between. Do your homework before giving a recruiting presentation, and tailor your message to the audience.

Avoid the Negatives, Be Consistent, Reach One

Do not recruit using negatives. Tell good stories, and discuss benefits and working conditions. Describe the second family they’ll be joining, the community they’ll be serving, and what makes your agency great.

Obscurity is the enemy of successful recruiting and hiring. You have to generate buzz. Find ways to tell your story and engage potential applicants.

Stop blaming generational differences on your recruiting and hiring woes. If no one is applying to your agency and everyone is leaving, it’s not a generational thing.

Each employee is a 24/7 talent scout, and supervisors should ask their troops: “Do you know anyone better than you?”

Read More: Everyone is a Recruiter – Law Enforcement Edition

Find Your Replacement

Want to double your ranks? Task each employee with finding one qualified applicant to apply — it worked for the California Highway Patrol. Gordon Graham was working at an ice cream parlor while getting his BA in business. An on-duty CHP officer stopped for an ice cream cone and made a significant impression on Gordon. The trooper asked Gordon what time he got off, then returned and took him on a ride-along. The rest is history.

Captivate and Inspire With Engaging Stories

Engage potential applicants. Learn more about them and build rapport by asking questions about their situation, family life and interests. Now tailor your recruiting and hiring message to their wants and needs. “After talking with you, our agency is going to be a great fit because…” Potential applicants should be captivated and inspired. The vision and hearing requirements won’t give anyone goosebumps.

Read More: How to Develop a Police Recruiting Presentation That Works

Set Up at Colleges and Military Bases

Diversify your applicant pool by traveling — if you want to hire women and minorities, go to them. Use websites such as to identify colleges with your target demographics.


Develop relationships with the faculty of preferred degree programs (don’t stop at Criminal Justice, and consider degree fields with low placement rates and starting wages). See if professors will let you talk to their students during class. The idea is that you need to hire cops, and the students need jobs when they graduate.

Military Bases:

Develop relationships with the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) personnel, as this is the program members must attend before separating. Most members joined out of high school, meaning most get out May-August. Set up recruiting and hiring presentations during the spring TAP classes. Return in a couple of weeks with your written and physical entrance tests.

Read More: How to Recruit at Colleges and Military Bases (It’s Not What You Think)

Recruitment Through Retention

Most agencies will not have a cultural shift overnight which fixes morale and other issues contributing to regrettable turnover. Instead, leaders can focus on reinforcing what motivates each employee. If an employee wants to be a K-9 handler, arrange to cross-train, help find beneficial classes and start mentoring.

Lateral Transfers

Lateral transfers can help your agency quickly fill its ranks and bring valuable experience and diversity to your community. A shooting school, leadership seminar, or training classes are great places to recruit. You can learn a lot about someone at training – their professionalism in class, and how they act off-duty when you go to dinner or hang out afterward. The icing on the cake is they are trying to better themselves to better serve their community. Why not make it your community? 

Read More: How Lateral Thinking Can Help You Hire Cops

If your department could use assistance in implementing any of these strategies for successful recruitment in 2023, contact First Arriving for a quote.