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Rates and Patterns of Law Enforcement Turnover: A Research Note
Law enforcement agencies invest substantial resources to recruit, hire, and train new police officers. Reducing officer turnover can save significant resources, yet little is known about the rates and patterns of turnover in law enforcement. Using data from the Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey in 2003 and the Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies (CSLLEA) in 2008, this study establishes baseline rates of employee turnover for sworn police officers. In addition to national rates, variations in turnover were compared across states, regions, urbanity, agency size, and agency type. Nationally, the total turnover rate was 10.8% in both 2003 and 2008. There was much consistency in turnover rates between survey years. Turnover rates, however, were higher in smaller agencies, municipal agencies, those in southern regions, and those in rural areas. The turnover rate benchmarks reported here serve to inform future research on law enforcement turnover and retention.