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Rates and Patterns of Law Enforcement Turnover: A Research Note

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Abstract

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.
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... The main stressors in police work arise from operational sources such as threatening or violent episodes, yet organisational sources can also be stressful, such as internal communication, workload, or lack of reward or appreciation (Amaranto et al., 2003;Shane, 2010;Violanti et al., 2017Violanti et al., , 2016. The magnitude of stressors in police work (Martinussen et al., 2007) provides a high risk of burnout (Basinska & Wiciak, 2012;Berg et al., 2006;Kurtz, 2008) and turnover (Hilal & Litsey, 2020;Wareham et al., 2015). The literature suggests that the police occupation, due to daily accute or cumulative stress, can seriously impair the physical and psychological health of police officers (Queirós et al., 2020b;Violanti et al., 2017Violanti et al., , 2018. ...
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