Let us assume that a patrol force is authorized 100 patrol officers of 200 total sworn officers. Let us also assume that the agency has an annual turnover rate of ten percent, meaning 20 officers leave the department each year. Agencies should understand the Replacement Cycle concept. In American law enforcement it is typical to have one year pass from the time an officer leaves the department until he/she has been replaced by a trained, capable officer. That year covers the time required for the authorization to hire, the recruiting process, the background investigation, the hiring offer and acceptance, police academy training, and the field training program.
Given the above information, of the 200 authorized officer positions, only 90 percent (180) are filled at any one time. This vacancy rate usually produces another undesirable effect. Agencies usually fill their promoted or specialized positions from the pool of patrol officers. Thus, when a captain retires, they are down a patrol officer. When a detective resigns, they are down another patrol officer. If half of the sworn officer positions are for patrol, then the effective turnover rate is double that of the agency. In our example agency, they can expect to have only 80 patrol officers of the 100 authorized positions. For an agency this size to be “up to staff” is practically impossible. This agency should plan their operations around a staff of 80 officers, not 100. Or, they can begin the hiring process prior to having actual vacancies, preparing themselves for the probable turnover.
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