Police Recruitment & Selection: Approaches & Stages

Police Recruitment & Selection: Approaches & Stages
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  • 0:02 Police Hiring Practices
  • 0:36 Recruitment
  • 2:17 Police Selection
  • 3:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

In this lesson, explore both the stages of candidate recruitment and selection and discover how modern police stations handle the process of choosing new officers. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Police Hiring Practices

Everybody had something they wanted to be when they grew up. For John Study here, that was a police officer. John Study always wanted to be a cop, and now he's finally beginning the process. So, what does this entail? Police hiring is really composed of two stages: recruitment, which is the process of enlisting new candidates, and selection, the actual act of screening and hiring candidates. So, John Study is trying to become a police officer. Let's see how this goes.


The first step to getting new recruits, like John Study, is recruitment. It's very rare that people just decide to become police officers without any motivation, and so police stations put a lot of effort into actively recruiting new candidates. While the use of television ads was common a few years ago, modern police stations are trying new tactics for a more technologically-advanced generation. Video games that simulate police work, advertisements on social media and the Internet, and modern marketing techniques are all being used to update recruitment practices.

There are still debates about this process, however. Many stations have tried to solve the problem of having fewer applicants by reducing the educational requirements for applicants. This opens up the application process to a wider range of candidates, but many people worry that building a less-educated police force could create long-term problems.

One specific focus of modern recruitment is increasing the diversity of police stations. Many people noticed that the average police department was almost entirely composed of white men, which is not necessarily representative of the population of many communities. Researchers realized that almost all recruitment efforts were targeted at white men, so police departments created specific units in charge of recruiting women and people of diverse ethnicities. Advertisements featuring more diverse police departments went a long way toward increasing the diversity of police applicants, and while there is still work to do here, the situation is improving.

Police Selection

So, the recruitment tactics worked, and John Study is interested in becoming a police officer. Now, he's got a bit of a process ahead of him. First, he's got to actually apply. The application form determines whether or not he qualifies for the job. He does, and so he moves on to the written exam, which tests the candidate's reading comprehension, problem-solving skills and writing skills.

After this, John Study will likely take a video exam, requiring him to watch a video of a specific scenario and verbally explain how he'd handle it. There will also be a physical fitness test to ensure that the candidate can handle the physical requirements of the job, as well as a psychological test to make sure that the candidate can handle the emotional and psychological pressure of the job.

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