Webinar presenter Dr. Chase Wetherington answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Law Enforcement Agencies and Military Recruitment: An Analysis of Current and Prior Military Service on LEO Performance and Disciplinary Issues. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: What was the title or what was the title of the other course you referenced related to recruiting college students?
Dr. Chase Wetherington: Education, Hiring and Disciplinary Issues in Law Enforcement Agencies.
Audience Question: What aspects of the law enforcement career tend to be the most appealing for veterans.
Dr. Chase Wetherington: The benefits I would say the retirement’s the same. I’ve noticed at least and again, I can’t speak for everyone for just the people that I’ve experienced it. You know just the environment though. The cohesiveness, the brotherhood, sisterhood, being part of a larger group. Kind of having a home if you will. I feel like a lot of times when people do leave the military they feel very much alone. They’re used to being with other people at the time that understand what they’re going through. Then they go home and they might have a family they might have people, you know to be around, but those people don’t really understand maybe what they’re going through. So, going into law enforcement, they can be around other people that do get it, especially if there were in the military themselves. So, I think it’s just being part of a better, you know a bigger group that honestly can be a support group for them.
Audience Question: Is there any risk with targeting the military in a category for recruiting purposes? So he’s specifically wondering do you find that the individuals vary greatly in terms of ability motivation and work ethic and you kind of touched on this towards the end that it’s you know, you should look at each person as an individual but wondering if you might have anything to do that?
Dr. Chase Wetherington: Sure, and again, I don’t want to generalize everyone but from what I’ve seen either in research or personally, generally you can kind of put people that comes through in the military in kind of one group as far as what their strengths are and those from college as well. Generally, it seems like when people come from being in the military, they’re better at dealing with people physically and verbally. There’s a thing called Verbal Judo and it’s basically verbal de-escalation, people in the military are generally good at that they’re able to talk to people or control people, called command presence. With people sometimes, there’s a time you say, “Hey back up”, you know, I’m saying like “I’m in control here” and generally, they can do that. Whereas people with a college background, they might be better at doing administrative things (writing reports). I would say that would be an aspect that we definitely see as an advantage because that’s a huge part of law enforcement.
Audience Question: Have you seen young college graduate police officers expect a return on investment in terms of quick promotions, and he goes on to explain that his experience suggests that most veterans were not motivated to join the military for the income but by a higher purpose wondering if research reveals differences between these two different recruiting pools?
Dr. Chase Wetherington: The first thing as far as college recruits, I definitely feel that. I don’t really like to mention generations like millennials or generation Z because honestly, millennials, represent the majority of agencies and it’s pretty much everyone between 40 and 25. But as far as people with a college education, focusing on that is a lot of research I’ve done is looking at that. And definitely in the people who go and get higher education like master’s and Ph.D., just almost assumed a lot of times that they’re going to be a command staff or something. There’s no substitute for experience. And so I haven’t really seen that in research or personal where a lot of people are coming from the military and expecting to be promoted not quite as much as people are coming from college. But again, sometimes I do think that there’s maybe a little bit of issue with authority in this only because they’re used to maybe being a colonel or someone with a high rank, where they have a lot of people under them and then they come back, you know through a citizen side and they don’t. So, that’s what I’ve seen throughout everything they experience.
Audience Question: Susanna asks we offer five points to qualified military applicants for the testing process. Have you found whether or not this is common with other agencies?
Dr. Chase Wetherington: So I have done some research on that and it looks like yeah, a large number of agencies do give five points. Some of them will give 10 points for disabled veterans. And I’m not sure if that’s how it is in her agency. It just depends, and I think it really depends on kind of the setup if there’s a civil service board or if there is you know differences, I can specifically mention my agency whereas when I first started we had to go to a civil service board to apply, then we went to the Sheriff’s Office to apply, but we don’t have that anymore. Now there’s really nothing like that. Now that doesn’t mean that they might say, “Oh, okay, well this person’s in the military, and so as long as they pass everything else we’re probably going to hire them.” I’m sure there’s some of that that goes on a lot of agencies. I haven’t really experienced that personally as far as the points but yes that is a very common thing to do.
Audience Question: Jerry wanted to find data in terms of your study of disciplinary issues in your department what qualified as a disciplinary issue?
Dr. Chase Wetherington: Good question, and you know, I again just overall situation. I don’t want to go into the weeds of the study and if anyone is interested, you can email me and I can send you the whole a copy of the whole study so you can read through it depending on who you are, it may be boring or not. As far as disciplinary issues, I looked at everything that could be as small as an avoidable crash up to and including termination. So not something like you’re driving down the road and someone hits you. But it’s something that was investigated by Internal Affairs and was found to be sustained, so committed whether the person admits or not but it was found to be accurate. Then the minimum kind of level I mentioned kind of what the event would be for the minimum level would be there would be a letter of reprimand put in their file and then again, it would go up to and including termination.
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