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Real-world Engagement & Turnover Analysis to Inform New Solutions (RETAINS): An Evidence-Based Policing Workforce Study

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $925,357)

Purpose of the project: Maintaining the staffing levels needed to adequately serve communities and protect public safety is one of the biggest challenges facing law enforcement agencies today. The need for improved staffing in police organizations is not new, but it occurs today in a new context and with more severe impacts on individuals, organizations, and communities. Retention issues are even more problematic because of their differential impact on officers of color and women officers. Police retention is severely under-researched, leaving agencies with almost no evidence base to guide practice. RTI International, the National Policing Institute, and the 30x30 Initiative propose a study to advance science and practice on law enforcement retention to strengthen law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

Primary activities: The research team will identify key drivers in turnover and develop strategies to mitigate them by (1) conducting a broad landscape analysis and in-depth study of 12 agencies using both traditional and novel data sources; (2) developing evidence-based “stay” and exit interview guides that can be used by any agency to improve retention; (3) helping agencies prioritize retention solutions by conducting a stated preference survey of police officers; (4) using agency administrative data to determine the correlates of and to forecast attrition; and (5) conducting a field study to test the effectiveness of promising practices.

Expected outcomes: Through this project, the research team will (1) provide recommendations on how to ascertain officers’ honest perspectives on engagement and retention and what to do with that information; (2) disseminate findings from the stated preference survey on specific retention incentives officers value most and how participants make tradeoffs among strategy and incentive offerings; (3) identify issues and corresponding solutions important for supporting prospective and current minority officers throughout their careers; (4) provide agencies with stay interview and exit interview protocols and corresponding How-To Guides; and (5) disseminate a practitioner-focused report on implementing and evaluating new retention strategies. The project will result in multiple manuscripts on innovative methodologies for examining officer retention.

Service area: The project will conduct an in-depth study of 12 agencies engaged in the 30x30 Initiative (Baltimore Police Department, Dallas Police Department, and 10 others that vary along key dimensions like region or agency type).

Intended beneficiaries: The findings and deliverables of this project are intended to guide efforts to improve engagement and retention and support agency staff diversity for all police agencies in the United States.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law," and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF

Date Created: September 27, 2022