Recruitment strategies: for Los Angeles county probation department: what works and what doesn’t

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RECRUITMENT, HIRING, AND RETENTION: CURRENT PRACTICES IN U.S. JAILS January 2000 U.S. Department of Justice National Institute of Corrections National Institute of Corrections Morris Thigpen, Director Ginny Hutchinson, Chief Jails Division RECRUITMENT, HIRING, AND RETENTION: CURRENT PRACTICES IN U.S. JAILS Connie Clem Barbara Krauth Paula Wenger LIS, Inc. January 2000 This material was prepared by LIS, Inc., NIC Information Center contractor, under contract J1C0-110 with the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections. Contents Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Project Method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Sources of Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Approach to Selecting Participants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Diversity in Jails Surveyed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Participating Agencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Organization of this Document . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Section I. Recruitment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Barriers to Effective Recruitment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Competition with Law Enforcement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 A Strong Local Economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Poor Actual or Perceived Working Conditions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Unfocused Recruiting Efforts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Difficulty in Attracting Qualified Candidates for Staff Diversity . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Special Characteristics of the Area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Unqualified Candidates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Approaches to Recruiting Effectively . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Targeting Priority Applicants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Developing Effective Recruiting Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Promoting the Profession . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Section II. Screening and Hiring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 The Baseline: Strong Personal Qualities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Screening to Improve Success Rates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Common Elements of Screening . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Recent Trends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Section III. Retention . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Attrition Factors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Retention Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Attractive Compensation and Benefits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Incentives and Awards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Positive Organizational Dynamics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Job Enrichment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Disincentives to Resign . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Agency Assessments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Appendix A: Contact Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A-1 Appendix B: Sample Recruitment Materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-1 Appendix C: Sample Hiring Materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C-1 Appendix D: Sample Retention Materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D-1 1 Introduction Perhaps the most serious problem jail administrators face today is the need to attract and retain sufficient numbers of high-quality correctional officers. Recognizing the need for information to help jail administrators meet this challenge, the Jails Division of the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) in 1999 directed the NIC Information Center to survey a cross-section of large, medium, and small jails and jail systems from throughout the United States. Because this report is based on information obtained from a small proportion of jails in this country, it does not provide a complete picture of current staffing practices. Instead, it is intended as an information resource on successful staffing practices in a variety of facility types and sizes. Its aim is to assist jail administrators seeking effective and innovative approaches to recruiting, hiring, and retaining qualified correctional officers. A number of forces combine to make staffing a major issue confronting jails. Among these forces is the demand for more correctional officers to staff either new or expanded facilities in many locales. Many counties participating in this study plan to add correctional officers over the next year or two; some—including four jurisdictions that are building new jails—will increase their number of officers by as much as 100%. Federal government statistics also suggest that corrections agencies will continue to focus on recruitment in the years ahead. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth in employment in correctional officer positions of 38.7% from 1998 to 2008, as compared with overall job growth of 14.4%. Project Method Sources of Information Staff from NIC’s Information Center and Jails Division developed a survey instrument/interview protocol to obtain the information and materials collected for this project. Jail administrators were contacted and given a choice of participating via either a telephone interview or a written survey response. Administrators from 17 large jails, 10 medium jails, and 7 small jails contributed information for this report. Most administrators chose to be interviewed, but six responded exclusively in writing. In some cases, the chief administrator was interviewed; in others, the information was obtained from the personnel division. A list of contact names is provided in Appendix A. This report of survey findings is augmented by remarks of speakers and participants in a July 1999 meeting of NIC’s Large Jail Network, which also focused on the topic of jail staffing. In addition to participating in the interview process, many survey respondents provided examples of their recruitment materials, personnel policies, and screening and hiring instruments. Selected items are included in Appendices B through D of this report. Other materials were added to the NIC Information Center resource collection. 2 Approach to Selecting Participants Survey participants were selected to represent a cross-section of jail types. Jail administrators who participated in the project were identified through the following means: n NIC Information Center and Jails Division staff notified administrators of jails in NIC’s Large Jail Network of the project and invited them to participate. n NIC Information Center and Jails Division staff identified specific medium and sma
ll jail jurisdictions for participation that were considered likely to have developed successful approaches to staffing. n Additional medium and small jails were randomly selected for participation to ensure broad geographical representation. Diversity in Jails Surveyed The jails represented in this report vary widely in terms of several factors: Size. The jails whose administrators participated in this study range in size from an average daily inmate population of 15 to more than 3,500 inmates. The largest agency represented is the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which houses approximately 20,000 inmates. Administrative setting or location in county government. Although most jails in this study are under the control of the county sheriff, five are located under the county administration, two are under the city administration, and one is part of the state’s corrections system. Unionization of officers. Officers are unionized or represented by an internal bargaining unit in about half of the jails in this study. Most, but not all, of these are among the larger jails represented. Participating Agencies The agencies that participated in the project are listed below. Contact information for the survey respondents is provided in Appendix A. All respondents have expressed a willingness to be contacted by colleagues who would like further information on the approaches outlined in this report. n Office of the Sheriff, Arlington, Virginia n Atlantic County Public Safety Department, Mays Landing, New Jersey n Beaufort County Detention Center, Beaufort, South Carolina n Bernalillo County Corrections / Detention Department, Albuquerque, New Mexico n Boulder County Sheriff’s Department, Boulder, Colorado n Cochise County Sheriff’s Department, Bisbee, Arizona n Columbia County Sheriff’s Department, Appling, Georgia n Dane County Sheriff’s Department, Madison, Wisconsin n Denver Sheriff’s Department, Denver, Colorado 3 n Erie County Department of Corrections, Erie, Pennsylvania n Fairfax County Office of the Sheriff, Fairfax, Virginia n Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department, Minneapolis, Minnesota n Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Tampa, Florida n Larimer County Sheriff’s Department, Fort Collins, Colorado n Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles, California n Milwaukee County House of Correction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin n Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Department, Sioux Falls, South Dakota n Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Portland, Oregon n Olmstead County Sheriff’s Department, Rochester, Minnesota n Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department, West Palm Beach, Florida n Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Tacoma, Washington n Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department, Aspen, Colorado n Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Riverside, California n Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Salt Lake City, Utah n San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, San Diego, California n San Miguel Sheriff’s Department, Placerville, Colorado n Santa Ana Police Department, Santa Ana, California n St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department, South Bend, Indiana n Shawnee County Sheriff’s Department, Topeka, Kansas n Stutsman County Sheriff’s Department, Jamestown, North Dakota n Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department, Fort Worth, Texas n Travis County Sheriff’s Department, Austin, Texas n Vermont Department of Corrections, Waterbury, Vermont n Woodbury County Sheriff’s Department, Sioux City, Iowa 4 Organization of this Document The body of this report presents survey findings, organized into three sections, and is followed by appendices containing contact information and additional materials contributed by participating agencies. Section I, Recruitment, presents methods used by respondents for targeting, reaching, and appealing to appropriate candidates for correctional officer positions. Section II, Screening and Hiring, describes current approaches in hiring jail officers. Section III, Retention, highlights successful tools used by respondents to retain the officers who are already on the staff of the jail. The Conclusion summarizes survey findings. Appendix A provides a list of participating agencies and contact names. Appendix B presents sample materials addressing recruitment. Appendix C presents sample materials addressing screening and hiring. Appendix D presents sample materials addressing retention. 5 Section I. Recruitment The challenge of recruiting of correctional officers has prompted jail administrators to examine the link between their agencies and the local labor environment. In the recruitment process, the defining elements of an agency—such as size, resources, and style of jail supervision—intersect with local factors, particularly demographics and the local economy. This intersection produces obstacles as well as opportunities. Based on the obstacles and opportunities they face, survey respondents have formulated recruiting methods that overcome disadvantages and tap into advantages within their agencies and communities. The survey findings focus primarily on targeting, reaching, and appealing to promising candidates for correctional officer positions. Barriers to Effective Recruitment Jail administrators face a number of obstacles—both internal and external—in trying to recruit strong candidates for positions as correctional officers. Jail administrators participating in this study identified several specific factors that make it difficult to attract applicants. Competition with Law Enforcement Jails have traditionally been at a disadvantage in competing with law enforcement agencies, or with the law enforcement divisions of their own agencies, for officers. A number of survey respondents have found that many applicants for correctional officer positions are primarily interested in moving to law enforcement jobs. A major factor driving this interest is that despite real progress in establishing pay equity between corrections and law enforcement, patrol officers are still paid more than correctional officers in about two-thirds of the jurisdictions surveyed. A Strong Local Economy Low local unemployment often forces the jail agency to compete with other public agencies and private companies for applicants. For many survey respondents, such competition reduces their effectiveness in attracting qualified candidates for officer positions. Poor Actual or Perceived Working Conditions The public perceives the corrections environment as television portrays it, according to Linda Hawkins, Manager of the Recruitment and Background Unit in the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in Portland, Oregon. In her presentation at a 1999 NIC Large Jail Network meeting, Hawkins described what she has found to be the usual outsiders’ view of corrections—correctional officers all want to be police officers, and working in the jail is a terrible job. In her work, Hawkins encounters potential applicants who believe that officers will be exposed to sexual assault, that officers in the jail are sadistic, or that they are simply security guards. Hawkins believes such stereotypes can be countered, but warns that some agencies perpetuate this negative image by using an assignment to the jail as discipline for those on patrol, or by treating correctional officers as lesser employees and giving them inadequate respect. Until such actual working conditions are addressed, Hawkins asserts, it will be difficult for jails to change perceptions and recruit new officers. 6 Unfocused Recruiting Efforts Agencies sometimes fail to focus clearly on the interests of potential applicants, a necessary step in creating effective approaches to recruiting. One respondent has found a particular challenge in promoting benefits packages to young applicants who are part of “Generation X.” In his jurisdiction, many younger applicants are not interested in retirement or do not believe that it will exist when they reach retirement age, making the agency’s retirement plan less of a recruiting asset than it had been in the past. Difficulty in Attracting Qualified Candidates for Staff Diversity Because many women and minorities are seeki
ng jobs with opportunities for professional advancement, the problem of attracting them can be exacerbated when correctional officer positions are not seen as professional opportunities. Many survey respondents noted that agencies need to find better approaches to targeting women and minorities and that efforts can be bolstered by educating the public about corrections as a profession. Special Characteristics of the Area Location, local economy, and other defining characteristics of an area can pose special recruiting problems for jurisdictions. Responding agencies located in ski towns or other vacation destinations reported difficulty in attracting good officer candidates because of other employment opportunities in the region. Respondents in small towns face problems in competing with employers who attract local labor to more lucrative positions within commuting distance, although this draw is sometimes countered by the desire of local residents to find jobs closer to home. For survey participants, local characteristics ranging from city regulations to changing demographics also limit the pool of applicants. 4 A City of Santa Ana, California, requirement that all new hires must be bilingual places serious restrictions on the available labor pool. 4 In Boulder, Colorado, the tight labor market and high cost of living make it difficult to find applicants who can afford to take relatively low-paying jobs in the Sheriff’s Department. Unqualified Candidates Even when a large number of people apply for correctional officer positions, it may still be difficult to attract applicants who are qualified. Many jurisdictions surveyed for this report screen out all but a small number of their applicants. 4 Salt Lake County, Utah, hires only 8% of those who apply. Approaches to Recruiting Effectively Barriers to jail recruitment challenge agencies to find and make use of their own strengths as well as assets within their communities. Survey respondents reported a number of approaches used by their agencies to overcome—or at least begin to address—the barriers to recruiting they encounter. 7 These approaches can be summarized in three basic steps: n Target priority applicants. Many responding agencies focus special recruitment efforts on target populations that have proven effective in the jail or that bring more diversity to the workforce. n Develop effective recruiting tools. Those interviewed for this study recommend that agencies use a wide variety of carefully designed tools for reaching new applicants. n Promote the profession. Respondents have found that potential candidates often need to be educated about the advantages of being a correctional officer and the reasons why the jail offers an attractive job opportunity. The suggestions that follow under each of these categories are based on the current practices and recommendations of those participating in this study. A selection of materials used in recruitment is presented in Appendix B. Targeting Priority Applicants Agencies often focus recruitment approaches on the types of applicants to whom they would give priority in hiring. Agencies that participated in this study target groups who have a proven record of becoming effective correctional officers as well as groups who will contribute to the diversity of the workforce. Retired military personnel. A number of project participants noted that although they run broad recruitment campaigns, they focus especially on the military, as former military personnel are likely to come with a certain set of useful skills and personal characteristics. Many also have experience in the military police. Some respondents also pointed out that although the military was once a primary area for recruiting, its importance has declined somewhat in recent years. Respondents have found that most military personnel begin looking for a job from 6 months to a year before they leave the service. In addition, the Armed Services will do free advertising, including putting announcements on the Internet for a jail agency. Responding agencies also noted that the military’s TAP (Transition Assistance Program) is a good source of retired military personnel, some of whom are in the reserves. The TAP program is regionally administered. Criminal justice students at 2- and 4-year colleges. In some participating agencies, facility administrators or other jail staff teach at a local higher education institution, where they can recruit either full-time staff or interns from among criminal justice students. Agencies reported that such involvement with local 2- and 4- year colleges helps increase students’ understanding of the opportunities available in corrections careers, while offering instructors a solid source for interns who can be groomed for certain positions and then hired. Administrator/instructors can also provide time for a recruiter to speak to the class about opportunities in the agency. 4 The jail director in Stutsman County, North Dakota, teaches courses in criminal justice at a local college. 4 Two high schools in Palm Beach County, Florida, have criminal justice magnet programs. Representatives from the corrections department sit on the school advisory board, provide instructors, participate in Career Day, and take students on tours of the correctional facilities. 8 Respondents noted that if 2- or 4-year degrees are desirable qualifications, it is helpful to offer pay incentives for additional education. 4 In Columbia County, Georgia, those with a 2-year degree receive a $1,200 a year supplement over the base salary, and those with a 4-year degree receive $1,800. This supplement is advertised and helps draw qualified candidates. Minority groups. Survey respondents acknowledged that it is important, but sometimes difficult, to recruit correctional officers who represent minority groups or who are bilingual. Respondents have found that a regular relationship with local associations targeted to minorities can help improve recruiting. 4 Multnomah County has a program in which command staff work with different minority groups. They serve as a steady contact within the agency and have the opportunity to make presentations at various meetings of community groups with high minority membership. 4 As a result of the outreach efforts by the Fairfax County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Department, the agency has been invited to participate in several minority job fairs. Women. Survey respondents reported that women may perceive jobs in the jail as potentially dangerous or simply not suited to a woman’s abilities. Although several administrators noted that they would like to have a larger proportion of women officers in the jail, they have not been successful in identifying good ways to recruit them. 4 The Los Angeles County, California, Sheriff’s Department has developed several Web pages specifically designed to encourage women to apply as deputies. Developing Effective Recruiting Strategies Jail agencies use a variety of recruitment vehicles, ranging from community networks to outreach tools to current staff. Survey respondents recommended using a combination of approaches and evaluating the effectiveness of each. The agencies surveyed for this project use a combination of recruitment tools and have a range of means—through informal observation or a more formal tracking mechanism—for tracking the effectiveness of each tool. 4 The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department worked with a pro bono policy analyst from the University of Southern California on a project to assess the impact of several recruitment initiatives. As they examine their recruitment methods, some respondents are consciously positioning their agencies to compete for new recruits by analyzing corrections agencies, law enforcement agencies, and other local businesses and organizations that attract the candidates who might otherwise apply for jobs with the jail. On the basis of this analysis, these agencies have been able to identify specific ways to make their jobs more attractive to potential candidates. 9 Community networks. Every jail is a part of the broader community. Jails managers who foster favora
ble public perceptions of the jail and who develop working relationships with outside agencies and organizations are contributing to the recruitment strengths of the jail. n Good community relations. Respondents pointed out the importance of educating the community at large about what the jail really is like, in terms of its mission, role, operations, and environment. Participating agencies have developed good public relations through openness with the media, coupled with other efforts to network in the community. In many jurisdictions, the sheriff or jail administrator is a member of local civic groups. A number of agencies open the detention center to local business people to help the community understand its operations. Some agencies establish a positive image by making jail staff available as speakers to local organizations. According to respondents, such activities educate the community and enhance recruiting efforts. 4 The sheriff in Olmstead County, Minnesota, is a member of Rotary, whose members regularly tour local businesses. 4 The corrections department in Erie County, Pennsylvania, has established a Speaker’s Bureau to train staff for speaking to community organizations. n Partnerships with local job services and other agencies. A number of those interviewed recommended that jails work with the local job service and other agencies to publicize openings. Some respondents believe that distributing job announcements and flyers to local government agencies has increased their applicant pool. n Pre-certification of officers. In some jurisdictions that require correctional officers to be certified, applicants may pursue education and training on their own to become licensed peace officers. They can sometimes receive dual certification for either police or corrections work. In a number of jurisdictions, local community colleges have developed certification programs and/or training academies. 4 A community college criminal justice program in Baltimore, Maryland, has developed a complete police academy as part of the curriculum. The 25-week program is fully accredited, and graduates are recruited and hired by area law enforcement and corrections agencies. A certified Corrections Academy is currently being developed, which will function in the same way. 4 A Corrections Officer Basic Training Academy in Erie, Pennsylvania, offers 4 weeks of state-mandated training on the local Mercyhurst College North East campus. Erie County Prison gives graduates priority in hiring. The program is the result of a collaborative effort among the Erie County Prison, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and Mercyhurst College, with the participation of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Outreach tools. Jails get their message to potential officer candidates through print advertisements and other visual materials, through live and video presentations at civic events and job fairs, and through the World Wide Web. (See Appendix B for examples of recruitment material provided by respondents.) n Multimedia recruiting materials. Participating agencies produce recruiting materials in a broad range of media, including display boards, pictures, posters, brochures, computer presentations, and recruitment videos. The materials cover such areas as career opportunities, agency values, pay and benefits, and the 10 testing and hiring process. Some agencies have also developed 30-second spots for local television stations and regularly run public service announcements on the radio. 4 A recruitment video and computer presentation developed in Arlington County, Virginia, lets applicants actually see where they will work. 4 Many agencies use promotional slogans to emphasize the appeal of a career in corrections. For Los Angeles County, the appeal is “Be a Star.” Hillsborough County, Florida, invites applicants to “Step Up and Stand Out.” The Correctional Officer Information brochure for Salt Lake County is titled, “Secure Your Future.” n Advertisements in local, regional, and national publications. Responding agencies advertise openings in various publications not only locally, but also in surrounding states, in military publications, and on the Internet. Some agencies have found that advertising in out-of-state papers can help in attracting interest, although requests for information may not yield many actual applicants. 4 When Larimer County, Colorado, advertised outside of the local area, it received 27 inquiries about positions after the first Sunday ad. n A Web site. Many responding agencies have found that their Web site is a valuable recruiting tool. Nearly three-quarters of large jails and jail systems participating in this study have established Web sites, as have a number of smaller agencies. Web pages give agencies the opportunity to market themselves as professional organizations and to point to opportunities for growth and development within the profession. These pages include information specific to recruiting staff, such as job descriptions, qualifications, pay, and benefits. Agencies with Web sites noted that a large number of applicants are either applying directly via the Web or have used the agency’s Web page to get information on positions. In a few locations, applicants can apply easily and quickly by submitting an application online through a link to the sheriff’s department or the county’s human resources department. 4 Dane County, Wisconsin, along with several other agencies, noted that approximately 25% of applications are arriving in response to information posted on the Web. n Job fairs. Respondents have found that job fairs, a traditional recruiting approach, can be more useful in planting seeds than in achieving immediate results. This is especially true of job fairs at 2- and 4-year colleges. At military job fairs, however, some agencies heighten contact with potential candidates by administering a personnel test. In any case, survey respondents recommended that enough staff attend a job fair to respond to questions from those who stop to talk. 4 Job fairs attended by Multnomah County recruiters have resulted in the hiring of a significant number of successful staff. n “Passive activities.” Some responding agencies use what they term as “passive activities”—notices that, once in place, serve as a steady reminder that the agency is looking for staff. Examples include advertisements on billboards and buses, particularly on certain routes where they will be seen by promising potential candidates. 11 4 The Sheriff’s Department in San Diego County, California, places ads and information on how to get application materials on the exterior of its recruitment vans. Current staff. Jail managers surveyed recognize that their current officers and staff are one of their best assets for recruitment. Many respondents described formal or informal ways in which they encourage jail staff to help maintain an effective workforce. n Formal programs. Some responding agencies have developed formal programs to train volunteers from their current staff to carry out specific recruiting assignments. 4 Thirty-seven deputies who volunteered to be recruiters have been formally trained by the Arlington County Human Resources Office and the Sheriff’s Office, based on a curriculum designed by both agencies. The recruiters are responsible for networking with other agencies and with people in the community to learn about local recruitment opportunities and for organizing their own recruiting events. n Informal staff involvement. A number of responding agencies rely informally on current staff to let others in the community know of openings, to answer questions from potential applicants, and to promote the jail as a good place to work. In agencies where this approach yields results, every member of the organization in effect functions as a recruiter and recognizes the importance of his/her role in getting the best possible co-workers. 4 In Salt Lake County, the Chief of the Corrections Bureau held a series of regular meetings at which staff made suggestions for recruitment, which were followed successfully by the admi
nistration. n Incentive rewards. Some agencies are trying incentive rewards to engage more current staff in recruiting new staff. 4 In Hennepin County, the position of detention deputy is listed on a “recruitment critical” status, which means that county employees can earn a $500 cash reward for referring successful applicants. 4 Salt Lake County pays a $50 reward to staff whom new hires identify as influential in getting them to apply. Promoting the Profession Key to the success of recruitment efforts—whether a position and agency description on the Web or a recruiter sitting face-to-face with an applicant—is providing an accurate picture of the aspects of the jail that will appeal to job candidates, especially to the agency’s target groups. Agencies participating in this study have found that career opportunities, attractive working conditions, and competitive compensation have offered the strongest appeals. 12 Career opportunities. Professionalism, opportunities for ongoing training and development, and a career ladder offering increasing authority can all have appeal to desirable officer candidates. n Professionalism. Most responding agencies emphasize the importance of promoting the position of correctional officer as a professional opportunity. In their recruiting efforts, these agencies underscore both career opportunities and specific efforts within the jurisdiction to increase professionalism. Some agencies make a point of using a job title that conveys professional standing. Other agencies have found it necessary to convince applicants that the position is not that of “guard.” Some agencies, particularly those that operate direct supervision facilities, have promoted correctional work as a chance to manage people. A number of respondents noted that detention work needs to be presented as attractive in itself rather than as a stepping stone to patrol work. Recruiting materials used by survey respondents often emphasize the professionalism of the agency or the position. 4 The Salt Lake County brochure states that the Sheriff’s Office has “built the position of Correctional Officer into a career with pride and integrity.” 4 The lead line on an Arlington County poster is “A Professional Career.” 4 A prominent line on a Multnomah County recruitment folder is “Work with the professionals.” n Training. Survey respondents observed that an agency’s training program can help attract candidates who are interested in overall professional development as well as in building specific skills. Some respondents suggested that training opportunities are even more attractive to applicants when they learn that training is built into the work schedule. n Accreditation. Responding jails that are accredited advertise that fact to applicants as further evidence of the professional nature of the work. To underscore the rigors of accreditation, many agencies also promote the fact that officers are provided strong training through an academy and within the facility. 4 In its recruitment brochure, Hillsborough County highlights its accreditation in a brief history of the Sheriff’s Office. n Growth potential. Many responding agencies promote the career path in the jail. The career path has been an especially strong draw where an agency is expanding or new construction is taking place, which strengthens the appeal of on-going growth and potential for advancement within the corrections system. 4 The recruitment brochure for Fairfax County emphasizes the growth and expansion of the Sheriff’s Office. n Lateral movement. In many jails represented by the survey findings, officers have opportunities for lateral movement that are not available to road deputies. Areas such booking, transport, and electronic monitoring programs offer different roles for correctional officers, making it possible to emphasize the versatility offered by the position. 13 Attractive working conditions. Jails that can highlight pleasing facility design and amenities, appealing work schedules, and/or interesting job characteristics unique to their facilities have a further advantage in officer recruitment. n The jail facility. Survey respondents noted that a pleasant facility can be a draw in itself, especially where it contributes significantly to good working conditions. Agencies with a state-of-the-art facility reported promoting its safety features and pleasant working environment. Many responding agencies with attractive facilities offer tours to candidates, either alone or with their families, which provide staff an opportunity to educate them on the jail’s operation and the important roles of the correctional officer. 4 In Shawnee County, Kansas, a co-located jail and youth center have helped with recruitment. 4 The Salt Lake County recruiting brochure promotes the agency’s new “state of the art” facility. n The schedule. Agencies that offer flexible or otherwise attractive work schedules have found this to be a strong draw for candidates. For example, in one responding agency officers strongly prefer a schedule that provides for two 12-hour shifts followed by two days off, with one block of 6 consecutive days off in every 28 day cycle. n Strengths based on size. Among respondents, some administrators of small jails identified job flexibility as a potential advantage in attracting new officers. Large jails in general can rely on more resources, such as Web sites, to help in their recruiting efforts. Some larger facilities are also able to emphasize more opportunities for a variety of posts and better prospects for advancement. 4 The jail in Cochise County, Arizona, competes with other agencies by emphasizing the advantages of working in a small, rather than a large, facility. Many prospective applicants prefer the idea of a small jail. Some applicants are drawn to employment with the local sheriff’s office because they prefer to stay close to home and family, rather than moving or commuting to a larger metropolitan area for work. Competitive compensation. If they are appealing, salary and benefits remain a strong recruitment draw, according to those surveyed. Some respondents noted that competitive salaries and benefits allow their agencies to not only appeal to entry-level officers, but also attract experienced, certified officers from other criminal justice agencies. A number of agencies are working hard to increase salaries, some in response to external studies that recommend substantial raises for correctional staff. 4 In Bernalillo County, New Mexico, the jail administrator has demonstrated through a cost analysis that raises for correctional officers would create no real increase in expenditure. The cost of training 125 new officers and paying overtime—both made necessary by high turnover—would be offset by increased retention. 4 Salary and benefits are emphasized in the recruiting materials developed by many agencies, including those in Arlington County, Fairfax County, Multnomah County, Salt Lake County, and Travis County, Texas. 14 Section II. Screening and Hiring No universal standards can be applied to the selection of correctional staff. To determine appropriate screening and selection processes, jails must not only design procedures to fit their local contexts but must also factor in state statutes and regulations. Because of these realities, the jurisdictions contacted for this study differ significantly in their approaches to hiring new officers. Some of the contrasts are rooted in philosophical differences among agencies—for example, whether or not conviction of a misdemeanor disqualifies a candidate from consideration. Other differences may be based on current employment contexts in the local area—for example, low unemployment in a jurisdiction may cause the jail to lower its minimum qualifications for officers or relax its testing requirements. What is appropriate for candidate screening in one jurisdiction may be completely inapplicable in another. The survey findings reflect a range of screening and hiring procedures developed by respondents to match their local contexts. Appendix C presents examples of materia
ls developed by responding agencies for use in screening and hiring new correctional officers. The Baseline: Strong Personal Qualities Despite the differences in the procedures they use to screen candidates for correctional officer positions, jail administrators participating in this study tended to agree broadly on the personal qualities they are seeking in new officers. These qualities can be summarized as: n Honesty n Good judgment n Ability to communicate n Dependability n High ethical standards n Stability n Maturity n Ability to learn and adapt. Screening to Improve Success Rates Among the jurisdictions surveyed, the success rate of applicants for correctional officer positions varies significantly. The success rate tends to be higher among jails committed to identifying and hiring only the strongest candidates. In these jails, screening is specifically designed not only to enforce minimum requirements, but also to weed out weaker applicants. This means, in some locales, that only about 2% of those who initially apply are eventually hired. 15 4 In Santa Ana, about 40% of candidates fail the written or oral exam. Many more are dropped during the background investigation, which looks for prior drug use or evidence of irresponsible behavior. Another 10% fail the polygraph or psychological test. Common Elements of Screening In many jurisdictions the sheriff’s office is a department within the overall county governmental structure. In these places, the county administers many policies related to employment for all county employees, including those employed by the sheriff’s office or jail. A county’s human resources division may be responsible for publicizing open positions for correctional officers, conducting initial qualification screening, and/or doing basic testing of applicants. Such a centralized approach to staffing can be an advantage in that it saves time and money for the facility. However, centralization of personnel functions can also be a limitation in that it constrains the jail’s ability to try a variety of innovative approaches to staffing. Collectively, the agencies surveyed for this study use a broad range of tools and measuring instruments to screen candidates for correctional officer positions. Candidates must meet minimum requirements and pass background checks and a battery of written, oral, and physical examinations. Responding agencies include most or all of the following elements during their course of screening. Minimum eligibility requirements. Age and education remain the core measures of eligibility for correctional officer candidates, though jails surveyed often consider education and experience flexibly, with an eye toward a candidate’s overall strengths. n To apply to be a correctional officer in most jails surveyed, an applicant must be at least 21 years old. A few agencies require applicants to be 18 or 19 years of age. n Three of the jails participating in this study require at least a 2-year college degree. The remainder require a high school diploma or GED. Recruitment materials of some agencies indicate that they give preference to candidates who have college degrees or are bilingual, although these qualifications are not required. In general, agencies have been tending to lower—or make exceptions to—minimum education requirements. n Many agencies require all applicants to have a current driver’s license. Background investigations. Most, but not all, agencies in the study conduct full background investigations that cover employment, arrest record, and residence. Some agencies employ full-time officers to do background checks, while others tend to rely principally on computerized databases, such as NCIC. A few agencies look specifically at a candidate’s financial record, under the assumption that bad credit may indicate a disregard for society’s rules or susceptibility to bribery. Ability tests. Agencies vary in terms of their reliance on tests of applicants. Initial screening may include a variety of tests, including written tests, some off-the-shelf products, and others designed by jail personnel. Some jails test candidates not only for general knowledge but also specifically for computer or typing skills, spelling, or writing ability. Psychological tests. Most agencies surveyed conduct some kind of psychological testing, usually following a conditional offer of employment. Some jurisdictions administer standard psychological tests such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory or the California Psychological Inventory, while others have developed their own psychological tests. At least six of the jails participating in this study do not use psychological tests of any kind. 16 Polygraphs. Polygraphs are not commonly used by agencies participating in the study, but a few responding agencies routinely administer polygraphs following a conditional offer of employment. In some agencies, for example, all Deputy Sheriffs are Class 1 Peace Officers, which means they may be tested through a psychological exam and polygraph. Sometimes, applicants are not candid regarding such things as past drug use; the polygraph encourages them to provide more truthful information about themselves. 4 In an effort to identify an alternative to the traditional polygraph, Cochise County is testing the use of a Voice Stress Analyzer Test for 1 year. The sheriff’s department is hoping that the Arizona state agency that certifies deputies for all agencies in the state will accept this test as an alternative. Four people in the jail are now certified to conduct the Voice Stress Analyzer Test, which picks up any stress in voice inflection. Oral interviews and examinations. The oral interview, which is nearly always part of the screening process, varies in both purpose and content as well as in its importance in the screening process. Some jails represented in this study rely exclusively on interviews to screen candidates. In some jurisdictions, candidates go to an assessment center where they are given an oral exam based on expected answers that have been graded on a point scale. In other jurisdictions, a background interview provides an opportunity for administrators to ask candidates questions specifically focused on their personal backgrounds and to note divergences from information gained through a background investigation. Medical examinations. An initial medical exam is a common requirement for hiring in most of the jurisdictions surveyed. It is given after a conditional offer of employment has been made. Some jurisdictions also do a drug screen of all candidates in connection with their physical exam. Physical fitness tests. In addition to a medical exam, many participating agencies also test candidates for physical fitness. In some cases, the physical fitness test has been developed specifically for the department on the basis of a task analysis. It includes simulations of tasks a candidate would have to perform if hired. Absolute disqualifiers. Discovery of current drug use automatically disqualifies someone from further consideration in all jurisdictions surveyed. Conviction of a felony also disqualifies candidates in almost every jurisdiction. Some agencies will consider those convicted of a misdemeanor while others will not; in some places, applicants convicted of a misdemeanor are disqualified if the offense involved domestic violence or a conviction of driving under the influence. Recent Trends Several common patterns emerged from discussions with agency respondents about recent changes in their methods for screening and hiring new staff. As in other areas addressed by this study, local uniqueness and diversity have led to wide variations in specific agency practices. Some of the newer practices identified by respondents are becoming fairly widespread in jails across the country, they suggest, while others are very new. Agencies are attempting to streamline their hiring processes. Both those sheriffs’ offices that hire new officers directly and those that depend on county departments of human resources are looking for ways to shorten the time it takes to hire new officers. 4 In Pal
m Beach County, the Director of Corrections discovered that it took an applicant four returns to the county’s Human Resources Department to qualify as a viable candidate. The four returns involved administering tests that are not required by the state of Florida. To save both time and money, changes were made to shorten the process. 17 4 Palm Beach County, along with several other responding agencies, has found that outsourcing the background checks has cut down on the time required to complete the hiring process. 4 In some places, agencies no longer have to wait for information on individual eligible applicants to arrive from the county personnel office. Instead of sending one application at a time, the county compiles a list of all eligible applicants who meet minimum qualifications. When the list arrives at the sheriff’s office, it is treated as a current roster of potential applicants. Testing is increasingly based on skills actually required on the job. New tests go further than those in the past to hone in on skills essential in a particular jail. Such testing may emphasize interpersonal skills, judgment in responding to crises, or selective physical abilities. 4 The County Council in Beaufort County, South Carolina, is developing hypothetical facility situations to use as part of the testing process. 4 The Boulder County Jail tests applicants for reactions under stress. 4 Riverside County, California, and several other agencies conduct practice physical agility tests to help candidates prepare for the actual test. Minimum qualifications are being lowered. Several jurisdictions have lowered their minimum qualifications because of the difficulty of finding qualified applicants during a time when the labor market is extremely tight. Among the changed requirements, the most common is a reduction in required education—for example, no longer requiring a high school diploma or GED, not specifying any minimum education level, or no longer requiring a 2- or 4-year degree. There was no general agreement among respondents on the effects of these changes, although some administrators expressed a sense that fewer strong candidates are applying for positions than in the past. In some locations, however, there is a counter trend in the direction of raising requirements. 4 In Palm Beach County, the sheriff raised the minimum education requirement from a high school diploma to an associate degree or equivalent credit hours. The agency has had no difficulty in filling positions despite this change. There is an increased emphasis on honesty and integrity. Although agencies have always focused on personal qualities such as honesty in their hiring, study findings suggest an increased emphasis on broader qualities such as integrity. A few agencies have developed their own “integrity exams,” while others are increasingly turning to polygraph exams to ensure honesty in reporting past behavior. Agencies are increasingly requiring new officers to sign “willingness agreements.” Willingness agreements are designed to help new recruits understand the demands of the position and to eliminate those who are not suitable for the duties required. A willingness agreement or survey is based on an individual facility’s philosophy, but it may ask questions such as the following: “Are you willing to stand on your feet 8 hours a day except for meals and breaks?” “Are you willing to work in building areas that have unpleasant odors, such as body odor or body waste?” “Are you willing to work double shifts and on scheduled days off with little or no advance warning?” Agencies that use such a survey require recruits to initial all points to indicate their acceptance. 18 4 The Atlantic County, New Jersey, Department of Public Safety screening process includes a 26-question willingness survey. 4 A rating sheet developed for staffing the Beaufort County Detention Center includes six questions that address willingness to accept working conditions. Agencies are attempting to hire more officers with prior academy certification. A number of agencies are encouraging applicants to pay for and receive academy training and certification before applying for correctional officer positions. The agencies then hire, when possible, those who have been pre-certified. Local colleges or community colleges often offer training leading to certification. Being able to hire those who are pre-certified can save the agency considerable time. In addition, the jail does not have to send new recruits away for basic training or to pay for overtime to fill vacant positions. Another advantage of this approach is that if an officer candidate has been willing to pay for training, it is likely that the person is genuinely interested in a job in corrections. However, pre-certification is not legal in all states. There is a growing trend toward using unsworn or non-certified officers in the jail. In a growing number of jurisdictions—and where not in violation of state law—unsworn or non-certified officers are increasingly being used in the jail. Salaries and benefits of sworn and unsworn officers may differ in these jurisdictions. Although their duties in the jail are the same as those of sworn or certified officers, their authority ends at the door to the jail. 4 In Hennepin County, Minnesota, for example, as many as two-thirds of the correctional officers are not sworn peace officers. 4 According to the jail administrator in Riverside County, a number of large agencies in southern California are now studying or actively involved in the use of unsworn correctional deputies in the jails. 4 Hillsborough County has developed a Civilian Support Officer (CSO) position, which bypasses inapplicable civil service limitations. CSOs are not correctional officers and do not play a security role. There are currently over 150 in the jail. The CSO category is a generic position, and about 30 are held in a pool that is ready at all times. This means that when a jail position vacancy occurs, it can be filled immediately. This quick turnaround is impossible with deputy positions. There is a growing trend toward using temporary employee contracts. Temporary contracts have the advantage of creating a pool of applicants who can be hired as openings occur. They also offer some jurisdictions a way to circumvent civil service requirements. Several agencies indicated that they are experimenting with the use of temporary employee contracts; a number of others have had such a system in place for years. 4 In Erie County, the county mandates that almost all hiring be done through “call-in positions,” which are temporary positions of 2 to 4 months’ duration. The time in service in these contract positions varies greatly; some contract employees move to permanent positions in as little as 2 weeks, while others serve much longer under contract. According to the jail administrator, this approach offers a number of advantages, including greater flexibility on the part of the contract employee and the ability of the administrator to remove those who prove to be unsatisfactory. On the other hand, the jail is likely to be recruiting from a pool of candidates who have no other job possibilities and thus are unlikely to have good skills. 19 Section III. Retention Jails benefit operationally from retaining their experienced correctional officers. Retention also reduces the costs of recruiting, hiring, and training. To retain an experienced staff, jails must work to address the interests of their officers. In a healthy economy where jobs are plentiful, jails face the additional challenge of retaining staff in a competitive job market. Few agencies keep data on attrition rates. However, it is clear that annual attrition among officers is a serious problem in some jurisdictions. Among the jails participating in this study that track attrition rates, attrition in 1998 ranged from over 28% in one jurisdiction to only 7% in another. Despite the importance of retaining good officers, respondents noted that a “retain at all costs” approach is clearly not in the best interest of either the employee or the facilit
y. Respondents believe that if an employee is unhappy, he/she should be encouraged to leave, especially if the morale of others is being affected. Survey findings indicate that having systems in place to track both performance and satisfaction can enable jails to identify retention strategies best suited to their specific environment. Survey respondents identified many factors contributing to staff attrition, as well as many tools being used to retain correctional officers. Examples of materials used to promote staff retention are presented in Appendix D. Attrition Factors Many of the same factors that make it difficult to recruit officers—particularly compensation and working conditions—also undermine the ability of jails to retain them. (See Section I.) During the course of employment, unique attrition factors can emerge as well. n Inadequate compensation. Most of those interviewed for this project believe that low salaries are one of the primary reasons for attrition. n Job moves to related fields. A majority of respondents believe that a primary reason jail officers leave their jobs is to move to other positions in law enforcement or with other area corrections agencies. Respondents noted that the level of pay is often a critical factor in such moves. 4 The respondent from St. Joseph County, Indiana, noted that 30% of the county’s jail officers are currently waiting for transfer or reassignment to patrol. n A change to direct supervision. Some respondents reported a jump in attrition in a move to a new direct supervision facility—some officers accustomed to their roles in a linear facility were unwilling or unable to make the changes needed to adapt to their new duties. Respondents noted that transition planning and training can help prepare officers to succeed in the new environment, but that losing a certain number of officers in the transition may be inevitable. Attrition related to direct supervision duties was not reported to be a problem after the transition to direct supervision was completed. 20 n The challenge of retaining women. Some of the agencies surveyed have found it more difficult to retain women than men and have considered initiating special retention programs designed especially for women officers. 4 In the Vermont Department of Corrections, which operates both the state’s prisons and its jails, women are hired at a ratio of about one woman to every six to eight men. Although this ratio is maintained throughout the training period, there is a higher rate of attrition among women than men at the Correctional Officer I level. While women leave positions in the state’s correctional facilities at a higher rate than men, the agency has a better record of retaining women in other positions. For example, a number of women who started as correctional officers have become probation officers in the agency, and approximately 50% of probation officers now are women. Retention Tools Attractive Compensation and Benefits The primary tools for retaining employees in any environment—competitive pay and benefits—are also important in the jail setting. However, they are not the only approaches that work for retaining correctional officers. Many of the administrators interviewed for this study identified other strategies, such as awards, positive organizational dynamics, and job enrichment, that they are using successfully to increase staff retention. Pay. Paying well may include not only developing adequate overall pay scales, but providing for step advancements, overtime compensation, and shift differentials. There is no question that agencies that are able to pay officers a competitive rate have a much greater ability to retain staff than those at a pay disadvantage. Also at issue in some jurisdictions is pay differentials between correctional officer and patrol officer positions. In about one-third of the jails in this study, correctional officers are paid the same as patrol officers. A number of agencies participating in this study cited specific efforts to increase the pay of correctional officers in the jail. 4 Larimer County decreased officer attrition from between 18 and 22% in 1996 to 6.5% in 1998. The jail administrator attributes most of this increased retention to salary increases during that period. 4 Salt Lake County has been building salary equity with deputies for sergeants, lieutenants, and captains but has not yet had the resources to do so for line staff. 4 In Vermont, officers receive at least the same pay as municipal police officers, the closest equivalent to county patrol. 4 Stutsman County began paying its correctional officers more than patrol officers when a new state prison opened nearby. 21 A survey of local salaries, comparing correctional officers’ salaries with those of other nearby jurisdictions and with the community in general, can help administrators convince county boards to provide periodic pay adjustments based on market wages. In general, administrators in this study whose officers are unionized believe that their agencies’ recruitment and retention efforts are strengthened because collective bargaining results in better salary and benefits. A few, however, cited possible limitations in creativity resulting from rigid step systems. Benefits package. Survey respondents confirm that it is easier to retain officers if an agency’s benefit package includes generous vacation benefits, strong health insurance plans, and a retirement system. Some sheriffs’ offices represented in the survey offer additional benefits such as memberships in professional organizations. 4 Membership in the state sheriff’s association and the American Jail Association are available to sworn officers in Alexandria County, Virginia. Additional benefits. Many counties and cities represented in this study offer special benefits to all their employees, including those in corrections. These benefits, which can be helpful in encouraging staff to stay, may include: public transportation subsidies; fitness facilities or memberships in a local health club; countysponsored child care center that gives county employees a preference for available openings and a preferential rate; and reimbursement for education related to the job. In about one-third of the jurisdictions surveyed, the county reimburses officers for up to 75% of the cost of job-related college education. In these counties, such benefits are available to all county employees. Incentives and Awards Survey findings indicate that regular recognition programs and special commendations for unusual service are strong retention tools. Awards and incentives can take a wide range of forms, including recognizing good service or extra effort through personal letters of commendation; awarding honors such as “Employee of the Month”; thanking employees for their accomplishments in an in-house newsletter; or acknowledging employees during roll call training to single out those who have done a good job. 4 Olmstead County has an awards program with several levels. The program was developed over a period of 6 years. It is based on attendance, promotion, wellness, specific performance, and public recognition. The county has found this to be a good retention tool. 4 In Fairfax County, the Sheriff’s Office Honors Award gives the recipient an item valued at no more than $25 (not cash or a savings bond), 4 hours of administrative leave, and an Honors Award Certificate. Positive Organizational Dynamics Survey respondents underscored the importance of striving for dynamics within the organization that make correctional officers feel they’re a vital part of a team—their viewpoints are heard, their talents are cultivated, and their career and personal interests are supported. The agencies represented in this study create these dynamics through approaches ranging from maintaining a positive overall work environment to providing specific wellness programs. 22 A supportive atmosphere and work environment. A number of those interviewed emphasized the value of letting staff know that the administrator is part of the team. An administrative philosophy that insists on fa
irness, openness, and honesty can go a long way to improving staff morale—and thus retention. The administrator of a small facility mentioned a relaxed atmosphere that is “more M*A*S*H* than Patton” as important in retaining staff. For most respondents, positive working conditions are crucial in retaining staff. Respondents have found that officers will often even take a pay cut to move to another agency if it has good working conditions. Although some large agencies in this study have found it hard to maintain a personal touch, they acknowledge that it can be a strong factor in retention. 4 In Hillsborough County, a major calls every employee on his or her birthday, and the chief administrator gives a speech of congratulations whenever someone is promoted. In addition, whenever there is a birth, death, marriage, or hospital stay, the administrator sends a handwritten note on his or her personal stationery. An agency mentoring program. In mentoring programs described by survey respondents, all new officers can be assigned to a mentor. The relationship is not one of supervisor and employee but is designed to provide support for new employees in making the transition to the jail. Mentors are civilian and sworn employees who are willing to serve as role models, guides, and career coaches to other employees. 4 The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s offers a “Career Network Mentor Program.” 4 Bernalillo County provides a mentoring program for new jail employees. A wellness program. In addition to providing on-site weight rooms or paying for memberships in local health clubs, some responding agencies offer special awards for fitness. Some agencies also allow healthy employees to donate their unused sick leave to colleagues who have long-term illnesses. 4 In Olmstead County, officers who pass a physical test receive a special pin with a heart on it. 4 In Hennepin County, there is a county-wide “Sick Leave for Fitness” Program that enables employees to cash in sick leave to pay for health club memberships or fitness equipment. Flexibility. Flexibility in meeting officers’ needs is a strong retention tool, according to some respondents. For some agencies surveyed, flexible schedules are part of this approach. Policies that empower staff. Many respondents recommended the adoption of management policies that empower staff, making them feel invested in a mission and providing room for their own judgment and discretion. One respondent emphasized policies that “help staff to feel they are working for themselves.” Evidence suggests that a sense of empowerment is a key to retaining employees in all types of positions, and several of those interviewed for this study reiterated this point. A flat organizational structure. Survey respondents suggested that an alternative to a strict career ladder is a system in which there are few discriminations in rank within the jail, and in which an officer has many opportunities to move laterally and to choose assignments that interest him or her. 23 4 Minnehaha County, South Dakota, experienced a significant reduction in officer turnover by making administration at the top very light and by providing officers more responsibility. Job Enrichment For correctional officers, job enrichment is often integral to experiencing the jail as a positive work environment. Agencies surveyed for this report address the career motivations of their officers through the structuring of jobs, training, and opportunities for advancement. n Opportunities for a variety of duties. Respondents noted that the possibility of working in a variety of assignments can help jails retain officers. Duties can involve work in other programs operated by the Sheriff’s Department, such as work release or electronic monitoring, or assignments in booking or transport. n Opportunities for advancement. Responding agencies have found that creating career paths or ladders can be an effective tool for retention. Some agencies establish an internal career path that includes certified or sworn officers as well as non-certified or non-sworn officers. 4 Hennepin County created a career ladder for its non-licensed officers. The supervisory positions thus established are equal in authority to their licensed counterparts in the facility. Performance reviews can be instrumental in helping staff to reach more challenging and rewarding positions in the agency. n Training opportunities. A number of agencies pay correctional officers to attend external training programs in addition to those provided in the jail itself. For some agencies, it is also helpful to offer opportunities for supervisors and managers to attend training programs sponsored by other organizations, such as NIC or the American Jail Association. Disincentives to Resign In addition to offering correctional officers incentives to stay with a jail career, many responding agencies are instituting disincentives to resign, sometimes aimed directly at discouraging or preventing job moves into law enforcement. Such disincentives often take the form of contracts or policies that allow the agency to recoup the cost of training a new hire. Commitment contracts. Many agencies are encouraging retention by requiring new officers to commit to staying with the jail for a certain length of time. Those who leave prior to the end of that time are subject to a requirement to repay the agency for training costs. 4 Arlington County requires 12 months of service; Salt Lake County requires 2 years for previously uncertified officers; and Atlantic County, New Jersey, requires 3 years, or new hires must reimburse training costs. 4 Columbia County requires reimbursement for higher education costs if new officers resign before reaching 1 year of service. 24 Personnel policies. In jurisdictions where there is a tendency for applicants to seek corrections jobs as a stepping stone to patrol, some responding agencies have developed specific policies that reduce the loss of jail officers to patrol positions. 4 In Shawnee County, Kansas, and Pitkin County, Colorado, there is no movement between patrol and corrections. 4 Boulder County requires officers to serve at least 2 years in the jail. 4 The Web page for the Salt Lake County jail specifically discourages applications from persons who are interested in being a patrol officer, stating “You should NOT apply if you merely see this position as an INTERIM STEP TO BECOMING A PATROL OFFICER. The position of Deputy Sheriff is recruited for and filled through a separate recruitment testing process.” Agency Assessments To aid themselves in analyzing attrition and retention within their agencies, many respondents have studied retention methods used successfully in private businesses and have developed instruments or processes for gathering relevant information. One source of such information is the staff itself—including those who leave. Exit interviews. Many respondents noted that departing staff can provide valuable information by telling human resources personnel why they are leaving and making suggestions for retaining other employees. Agencies that conduct exit interviews usually focus on finding out if officers are leaving because of working conditions, for better pay, or to join law enforcement. Survey participants noted that although many agencies conduct exit interviews, few track the results to improve their retention of correctional officers. In some agencies, the results of exit interviews are confidential. However, many agencies have found that an analysis of reasons for attrition—as well as a review of what exiting staff might have liked about the job—can be very useful in determining how to adjust operations to retain staff. Respondents advised staying current with interview results to make assignments more attractive. Some respondents have also found it helpful to conduct an interview when a staff member moves to a new assignment. 4 The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, as well as many others, conducts a “separation interview” using a structured interview instrument. 4 Palm Springs and Hillsborough Counties are among the a
gencies that conduct exit interviews with all jail employees who leave. Their suggestions are reviewed and acted on where appropriate. Internal staff surveys. Some responding agencies use internal surveys to help identify and address issues that are important to employees. Examples of these issues have included child care, education, and the promotion/career ladder. Respondents have found it helpful to get feedback from staff on a regular basis, both formally and informally. Research on private business. A few responding agencies mentioned the usefulness of research on how private businesses are retaining their employees. 4 Tarrant County, Texas, has enhanced its study of private business practices by networking with businesses it has researched. 25 Conclusion The 34 agencies surveyed for this report provide a cross-section of experience in staffing jails across the country. Competition for highly qualified staff has prompted these jail administrators to seek ways of matching the staffing needs of their agencies to the interests and abilities of potential recruits, especially those in the local labor pool. Survey responses reflect a growing awareness of the need to actively promote those aspects of a correctional career that offer the strongest attractions to the most promising candidates. The study’s participants frequently have developed ways to overturn negative perceptions about corrections careers by first increasing the professionalism of their agencies, then focusing their recruiting efforts on that professionalism. Improvements in career opportunities, working environments, and benefits have proven effective in attracting and retaining high-quality staff. Elements can include opportunities for training and advancement, attractive facilities, positive organizational dynamics, and benefits ranging from competitive pay to wellness programs. While responding agencies work to attract candidates, they also focus on screening standards and procedures designed to improve the quality of the staff they hire. Many agencies are refining their tests and hiring processes to more closely measure qualities demanded by correctional officer positions—from physical skills to thinking skills to character qualities. At the same time, many of the participating agencies are experimenting with methods for reducing the time and costs required for bringing skilled officers and candidates on board. Participating agencies identified multiple strategies for recruiting, hiring, and retaining staff. The methods and tools they recommend make use of materials (ranging from flyers to Web sites) and people (including staff, administrators, and community members) as well as policies, programs, and procedures. While no agency can eliminate the problem of maintaining a qualified workforce, jails that undertake a strategy that incorporates some of these suggestions may find their staffing issues become significantly more manageable. A-1 Beth Arthur Arlington County Sheriff’s Office 1425 N. Courthouse Road, Suite 9100 Arlington, VA 22201 (703) 228-4460 barthu@co.arlington.va.us Frank Mazzone Atlantic County Public Safety Department 5060 Atlantic Avenue Mays Landing, NJ 08330 (609) 645-5877. Mark Fitzgibbons Beaufort County Detention Center P.O. Drawer 1228 Beaufort, SC 29901 (843) 525-7360 John Dantis Bernalillo County Corrections Detention Department 415 Roma N.W. Albuquerque, NM 87102 (505) 764-3501 jdantis@mercury.bernco.gov Steve Treacle Boulder County Sheriff’s Department 3200 Airport Road Boulder, CO 80301 (303) 441-4993 Jackie Brock Cochise County Sheriff’s Department 203 N. Judd Drive Bisbee, AZ 85603 (520) 432-9352 John Wheeler Columbia County Sheriff’s Department P.O. Box 310 Appling, GA 30802 (706) 541-0754 Captain Joseph M. Norwick Dane County Sheriff’s Department 115 West Doty St. Madison WI 53703 (608) 284-6165 Carlos Jackson Denver Sheriff’s Department P.O. Box 1108 Denver, CO 80201 (303) 375-5690 Art Amann Erie County Department of Corrections 1618 Ash Street Erie, PA 16503 (814) 451-7522 Captain Katherine A. Little Fairfax County Office of the Sheriff 4110 Chain Bridge Road Fairfax, VA 22030-4041 (703) 246-3260 David S. Bornus Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department 350 South Fifth St, Room 36 Minneapolis, MN 55415-1369 (612) 348-9744 David Parrish Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office P.O. Box 3371 Tampa, FL 33601 (813) 247-8310. Gary Darling Larimer County Sheriff’s Department 200 West Oak Street Ft. Collins, CO 80522 (970) 498-5201 John Anderson Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department 450 Bauchet Street, Room 801 Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 892-5002 Richard C. Cox Milwaukee County House of Correction 1004 N. 10th St. Milwaukee, WI 53233 (414) 427-4785 Appendix A: Contact Information A- 2 Steve Reec y Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Departmen t 500 N. Minnesota Ave . Sioux Falls, SD 5710 4 (605) 367-430 0 Linda Hawkins Multnomah County Sheriff’s Offic e 12240 N.E. Glisan St . Portland, OR 9723 0 (503) 248-356 8 Sgt. Stacey Sinne r Olmstead County Sheriff’s Departmen t 101 SE 4th Stree t Rochester, MN 5590 4 (507) 285-832 0 Keith Chamber s Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Departmen t 3228 Gun Club Roa d West Palm Beach, FL 3340 6 ChambersK@pbso.or g Les Lincoln Pierce County Sheriff’s Offic e 910 Tacoma Avenue South Tacoma, WA 9840 2 (253) 798-424 7 llincol@co.pierce.wa.u s Don Bir d Pitkin County Sheriff’s Departmen t Department J 506 E. Main Stree t Aspen, CO 8161 1 Robert Dott s Riverside County Sheriff’s Departmen t P.O. Box 51 2 4095 Lemon Stree t Riverside, CA 9250 2 (909) 955-240 0 Dean Carr and Laurie Housekeepe r Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Offic e 2001 S. State #S270 0 Salt Lake City, UT 84190-143 0 (801) 468-391 2 Lynn Pierc e San Diego County Sheriff’s Departmen t 9621 Ridgehaven Ct., Box 42900 0 San Diego, CA 9214 2 (619) 974-227 8 Sky Walter s P.O. Box 8 9 San Miguel County Sheriff’s Departmen t Placerville, CO 8143 0 (970) 728-794 0 Russ Davi s Santa Ana Jai l P.O. Box 198 8 Santa Ana, CA 9270 2 (714) 245-812 0 rdavis@ci.santa-ana.ca.u s Dave Nickerso n St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Departmen t 129 South Main Stree t South Bend, IN 4660 1 (219) 235-959 3 Tom Merke l Shawnee County Sheriff’s Departmen t 501 S. E. 8t h Topeka, KS 6660 7 (785) 291-510 0 Marcie Conmy-Fishe r Stutsman County Sheriff’s Departmen t 205 6th Street S E Jamestown, ND 5840 1 (701) 252-743 6 Savala Swanso n Tarrant County Sheriff’s Departmen t 100 N. Lamar Stree t Fort Worth, TX 7611 2 (817) 884-311 8 David Balagi a Travis County Sheriff’s Departmen t 500 West 10th St . Austin, TX 7870 1 (512) 473-934 8 Robert Smith Vermont Department of Correction s 103 S. Main St . Waterbury, VT 05671-100 1 (802) 241-229 2 Bonnie Ame s P.O. Box 371 5 Woodbury County Sheriff’s Departmen t Sioux City, IA 5110 2 (712) 279-604 0 B-1 Appendix B: Sample Recruitment Materials Contents Brochures: Fairfax, Hillsborough, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Counties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-2 Recruitment Packet: Arlington County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-5 Flyer: Hennepin County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-6 Recruitment Tracking Analysis: Los Angeles County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-8 Websites: Fairfax, Los Angeles, and Olmstead Counties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-12 C-1 Appendix C: Sample Hiring Materials Contents Interview Questions: Beaufort County (Draft) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C-3 Employment Information Packet: Boulder County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C-11 Application Packet: Salt Lake County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C-25 Willingness Survey: Atlantic County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C-43 D-1 Appendix D: Sample Retention Materials Contents Education Reimbursement Program: Los Angeles County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D-3 Employee Recog
nition Procedures: Fairfax County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D-7 Mentor Program: Los Angeles County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D-13 Core Competency Review: Olmsted County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D-17 Repayment Agreement: Atlantic County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D-23 Exit Interview: Los Angeles County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D-24 Appendix B: Recruitment Contents Brochures: Fairfax, Hillsborough, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Counties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-2 Recruitment Packet: Arlington County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-5 Flyer: Hennepin County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-6 Recruitment Tracking Analysis: Los Angeles County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-8 Websites: Fairfax, Los Angeles, and Olmstead Counties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-12 B-2 B-3 B-4 B-5 B-6 B-7 B-8 B-9 B-10 B-11 B-12 B-13 B-14 Reprinted by permission of the Olmstead County Sheriff’s Office. B-15 Appendix C: Hiring Contents Interview Questions: Beaufort County (Draft) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C-3 Employment Information Packet: Boulder County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C-11 Application Packet: Salt Lake County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C-25 Willingness Survey: Atlantic County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C-43 C-3 C-4 C-5 C-6 C-7 C-8 C-9 C-10 C-11 C-12 C-13 C-14 C-15 C-16 C-17 C-18 C-19 C-20 C-21 C-22 C-23 C-25 C-26 C-27 C-28 C-29 C-30 C-31 C-32 C-33 C-34 C-35 C-36 C-37 C-38 C-39 C-40 C-41 C-42 C-43 C-44 C-45 Appendix D: Retention Contents Education Reimbursement Program: Los Angeles County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D-3 Employee Recognition Procedures: Fairfax County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D-7 Mentor Program: Los Angeles County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D-13 Core Competency Review: Olmsted County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D-17 Repayment Agreement: Atlantic County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D-23 Exit Interview: Los Angeles County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D-24 D-3 D-4 D-5 D-7 D-8 D-9 D-10 D-11 D-12 D-13 D-14 D-15 D-17 D-18 D-19 D-20 D-21 D-22 D-23 D-24

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