Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXIX, No. 594 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY February 28, 2003

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Valor in Vegas; Clark hits the mark; building on Hope; mushing off into the sunset; high on High; Santiago’s back to work.
Beyond Rampart: LAPD wants to put some gusto back in anti-gang efforts.
High hopes: Portland has cops focusing solely on quality-of-life issues.
Anteing up: Foundation pumps millions into E-911 system development.
Federal File: Bush’s mixed-bag budget; FBI computer upgrade called a “disaster”; weeding out virtual victims in kiddie porn.
Passing lane: Speeders use the Web to pay up (and avoid their insurance companies).
“Atrocious”: Report rips Houston’s DNA lab over work quality, procedures, training, physical facility and more.
Easing the restraints: Judge gives the NYPD a freer hand in intelligence-gathering.
Calling in the cavalry: Persistent violence outweighs fears of racial profiling as Baltimore gets set to bring in state police.
Graduation day: First alumni are due to leave California’s treatment program for sex predators.
Forum: Homeland security — safety in numbers; handling the news media.
Family matters: More Florida sheriffs are taking over child-protection investigations.

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Morale stinks. Here’s why. Now what?

     For several years now, police departments nationwide have been experiencing recruitment problems and an increase in employee attrition. As the shortage worsens, it begs the question of why police departments have been unable to recruit or retain qualified personnel. One readily identifiable culprit is low morale, which researchers have found to significantly influence officers’ decision to leave police service — to say nothing of its link to other organizational problems, such as corruption and inefficiency.

     In New York City, the police department since 1998 has experienced a sharp decline in the number of applicants taking its recruit exams, along with an exponential increase in the number of officers who retire or resign — and, again, many commentators have linked these problems to low morale. What has hampered the debate over officer morale in the NYPD, however, is a lack of hard empirical data. No recent scholarly research had been conducted to measure officers’ attitudes...