Not providing screening at all can become a huge liability. If an incident happens and there's not an evaluation of the person available, it would be tough to defend the action. At this time, the Wisconsin bill mandating psychological screening did not get out of committee, and Hraycheck must decide whether she will go forward with it again this session.
A good fit for all
While many agencies hope for ample federal stimulus handouts in the coming days, hiring continues to pose problems, with small and rural departments having the hardest time of all. Despite being excellent training grounds, more officers choose to leave these agencies to seek out greater responsibility and competitive wages.
"Officers have to support their families and unfortunately, some of the smaller agencies in my jurisdiction, which are funded by their village and town boards, just don't have the finances to offer higher wages," Hraycheck says. "Still, some of the villages have worked very hard at being competitive; in fact, we have lost some county officers to larger villages. So, in some cases it has worked in reverse."
But this is the exception. Often small agencies have a tiny number of applicants to begin with, not to mention a high turnover rate. Where the big bucks cannot be found, departments must showcase what they can offer, such as one-on-one training or career enhancement pay for special skills.
Perhaps a common sense approach, Hraycheck emphasizes that above all else it's "important for departments to foster a culture within their agencies where employees want to stay … where they are treated well and respected, and are supported by their administration."
Quality law enforcement officers should never be a casualty of economic hardship — especially when both recruiters and the recruits continue to seek rewarding and lasting relationships. Despite challenges, good cops are out there … waiting to be found.