The Rising Issue of Generation Y and Police Training By Problem Solving Practicum OL430 Anthony Nixon February 27, 2008 CONTENTS Referencesiii Research Focus The Real Issues1 What is Generation X? 2 Generation Y4 The Problem6 Recruitment, Selection, and Retention8 Conclusions12 References Lomi Kriel. (2006, June 26). Cities face troubles in hiring cops. San Antonio Express News, p. 1. Andy Headworth. (2007, December 07). Ten differences between Generation X and Generation Y Employees [Msg 1].
Message posted to Sirona Says To infinite recruitment and beyond electronic mailing list, archived at http:/? /? blog. sironaconsulting. com/? sironasays/? 2007/? 12/? our-futurex-ver. html Wikipedia. (2007). Generation X. In Wikipedia (1st ed. , Vol. 1, p. 1). Unknown, World Wide Web: Wikipedia. Retrieved March 10, 2008, from Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia Web site: http:/? /? en. wikipedia. org/? wiki/? Generation_X Research Focus The Real Issues There is a rising problem in the police field regarding hiring and retaining quality officers.
At the front of this problem is the Y generation and the opposing generational values between them and generation X. This also lends itself to training issues and the difference in learning styles between the two generations. This paper will delve in to merging the two current styles of training and the problems that might come up during the process. This investigation will deal with agencies across the country as well as my own. The problem affects the public as well as the officers not provided the life experience to handle situations they will come in to contact.
With the average age of a generation Y leaving the home being, twenty-six they do not possess the live skills necessary to deal with situations common in the law enforcement field. The training styles have to adapt to accommodate this lack of skills and help overcome the problem. My research will come from networking with other agencies across the state and country. A major portion of my research will come from the web as well. COPS website with the help of some benchmark police agencies has developed a training program that can help this issue.
With the combination of the San Jose model of training and the Police officer training program, we will address this issue. What is Generation X? According to Wikipedia, Generation X is a term used to describe a generation born between the 1960’s and the 1970’s (Wikipedia, 2007). According to other sources, Generation X is anyone born between the mid 60’s and 1980. Generation X’rs were brought up on television, Atari 2600s and personal computers. They are the generation raised in the 1970s and 1980s, and saw this country undergo a selfish phase that they do not want to repeat.
Generation X’rs are independent, enjoys informality, is entrepreneurial, and seeks emotional maturity. They want to build a repertoire of skills and experiences they can take with them if they need to, and they want their career path laid out in front of them or they will walk. They also seek balance in their lives now not when they retire. They seek time to raise their children and do not want to miss a minute as their parents did. This generation also wants immediate and honest feedback.
While combing the net for research material, I came across a blog listing ten differences between generation x and generation y. I am going to quote the differences here: “1. Preferred style of leadership • X – only competent leaders will do • Y – collaboration with management is expected 2. Value of Experience • X – don’t tell me where you have been, show me what you know • Y – experience is irrelevant, as the world is changing so fast 3. Autonomy • X – give them direction, and then leave them to it • Y – questions, questions, questions 4.
Feedback • X – expect regular feedback • Y – need constant and immediate feedback 5. Rewards • X – freedom is the ultimate reward • Y – money talks 6. Training • X – want to continually learn, if they don’t they will leave • Y – still in an exam driven mentality 7. Work Hours • X – do their work and go home • Y – will work as long as needed … or until they get bored 8. Work Life Balance • X – they want to enjoy life to the full, while they are young enough to do so • Y – their lives are busy – they need a lot of ‘me’ time 9. Loyalty X – they are committed as everyone else working there • Y – already working out their exit strategy 10. Meaning of Money • X – it gives freedom and independence • Y – just something that allows them to maintain their lifestyle (Andy Headworth, 2007). ” As the reader can see, some of the differences quoted here could cause a problem for the generation y employee successfully adapting to the Police way of life and business. Generation X fits well with the lifestyle. Generation Y Generation Y is made up of those born between 1977 and 1990.
This generation goes by innumerable names—”The MyPod Generation,” for their penchant for social networking sites such as MySpace and their surgically attached iPods, “The Baby Boomlets,” referring to their status as children of the “Baby Boom” generation, and “The Boomerang Generation”, in reference to the hordes who have moved back in with their parents after living on their own for a while—that should tell the reader a lot about what to expect in the job place. With this generation, there is a perception that they become board with their jobs very quickly.
If the technology is slightly out dated, this generation is preparing an exit strategy for finding a “better” or “different” job. They do not seem to accept the current hierarchy of the workplace and become frustrated with the day-to-day slow-paced environment of the job. All of these issues are common in the workplace of today. The common reaction of those already in the workforce, the X generation, is; “why should we have to adjust to their behavior? They should adjust to ours. ” While this is a very legitimate and expected response, I do not think it can be this simple. This generation is different is so many ways.
They grew up during the most profitable times of the US economy in the last 100 years. They were brought up experiencing the lap of luxury, eating out, two plus cars per family, etc. They are also very opinionated about the jobs they wish to have and how much money they expect to make. The only problem is somewhere along the way, they missed the important issue of having to work their way up from the bottom and not starting at the top. We need to look at whom this generation looks up to. This generation was brought up idolizing those that were good looking, and “got rich quick. ” During their childhood, here were a lot of men and women that made this look very easy. We also need to realize that this generation is not a generation of “slackers. ” They just have a different personality than the generation X’rs. It is also very important to understand that this group of workers will not stay at one job during their carriers. Some estimate that they will change jobs up to twenty times working their way to retirement. With the portability of retirement funds, there is less of a need for them to become vested in a company. As current employees of these companies and departments, we need to realize this and adjust accordingly.
They view their work as a job and not a carrier. This becomes a major issue for small and mid-sized departments within the police field. A recent study shows that by the time, a person is hired, with the extensive background checks and man hours involved, a department has spent upwards of $150,000+ dollars. By the time this new hire hits the streets, on their own, the amount has grown by at least twice that. Therefore, the idea that this generation carries regarding the portability of retirement and jobs can be very detrimental to the financial stability of a department.
The time and money invested in training this new generation has to become an issue and has to be addressed with them. In law enforcement today, we are facing a crisis. More and more jobs within this field are becoming available, but the workforce pool to recruit from is becoming ever smaller. The job today is not held in the same regard as it once was, and with this generation, the need to adapt and change our way of thinking is becoming a growing issue. We have to change, or our ways of live in society will falter. The Problem Police agencies are selling a product few young people are buying.
The real underlying problem is that law enforcement agencies are selling a product few young people are buying, except for a few televised glamorized jobs like the FBI and DEA. The truth is that 99% of all police work is stressful, potentially dangerous, boring for long periods of time, under-appreciated, overly-regulated, micro-managed, seniority driven, bureaucratic, heavily disciplined, 24/7 shift work, little time off from work, premature death, and high rates of alcoholism, divorce and suicide. More importantly, operational police work is not always viewed by the media and public as the best professional job choice by young people with a ollege education. It is a buyer’s market for “generation Y” accustomed to instant communication and information. Their lives are not work-centered, and they want more from a job than the promise of a 30-year pension at the end of the rainbow. The higher starting salaries will get their attention, but to close the deal to join the police department, they will need to feel that they will be included in decision-making, be recognized for their achievements, have flexible work schedules, and work for an agency with high moral values.
The recruitment of Generation Y into policing will call for not just a new strategy by agencies, but a shift in the police culture to place more value on quality of life and working conditions. In an article from the San Antonio Express News from 2006, it is estimated that 80 percent of the nation’s 17,000 law enforcement agencies have vacancies that cannot be filled. Police agencies around the country are struggling to fill vacancies due to the massive amount of retirements from the baby-boomers, growing populations, and fluctuating city budgets, not to mention the generation Y persons shying away from the police business. Lomi Kriel, 2006) Recruitment, Selection, and Retention The problem of selection of qualified police officers from Generations X and Y is not unique to the United States. Other countries also have problems with inadequate screening and psychological stress. In the latter, the stress to which a police officer is exposed is extraordinary, including serious threats to themselves, their lives, and physical integrity and/or serious threats to their fellow officers. They witness riots and corruption, the serious injury or deaths of citizens, bombings, and critical incidents that involve their being shot at and shooting at someone.
They deal daily with the hostility and resistance of citizens. Some natural or accidental disasters that police officers are exposed to produce occasional stress, and others produce frequent stress. These stresses contribute to a loss of the sense of immortality; all individuals come to realize they are mortal, but the realization occurs in police offices at a much younger age. Stress, when it is prolonged or overwhelming and the individual is not able to cope, becomes harmful physically and psychologically.
The interplay between the stress of police work, the type of police department (suburban, large city, sheriff’s department), the social support system, the individual’s personality structure, experience, neurobiological substrate, psychological strength, and maturity determine the outcome. Individuals react differently to stress depending on their psychological resilience. An individual who is psychologically impaired before becoming a police officer tends to have his or her basic personality problems accentuated when under stress, with resultant deterioration in functioning.
Preferably, police candidates should be graduates of a four-year college, in view of the complexity of police work. The best predictor of an individual’s future behavior is his or her past behavior. The ideal standard is the absence of a history of deviant behavior and absence of alcohol and drug abuse. The history of substance abuse, the relationship to authority, respect for the law, job history, and financial records are extremely important in the evaluation of prospective police officers. In addition, the way individuals handle their anger must be carefully assessed.
The family history is important to determine the possible identification and dynamics in an individual. Family history of psychological disturbance or criminal activity and interpersonal relationships should be explored. Relationships with friends and interactions should be evaluated. Reasons why a person desires to be a police officer should be appraised. The selection process from a pool of candidates with a clearly defined job description should be limited to the absolutely best candidate for further evaluation.
Only the best-qualified, educated, dedicated, moral, and ethical person should be selected. Problem candidates should be weeded out before they are hired and become a problem, due to negligent hiring, negligent retention, or ineffective supervision. Civil service commissions must be aware of the problems involved in police officer recruitment and selection. Law enforcement agencies must become a learning organization in which individuals become active participants in expanding their knowledge in an atmosphere in which people discuss and explore concepts.
Departments that foster the attitudes that “thinking stops doing” and “yours is not to reason why; yours is but to do and die” send a message to recruits and police officers that one must “go along to get along,” which is the antithesis of the community policing program. The job description and announcements are critical elements in the recruitment and selection process. The job description should include the need to work rotating shifts, nights, and weekends; 24-hour availability; mandatory overtime; uniform and grooming requirements; adherence to police department rules; and regulations and mandatory physical wellness.
Job descriptions should include the possible need in critical situations to kill a fellow human being and the possibility of being involved in physical confrontations with citizens. A primary concern in the evaluation is how officers cope with their own anger and aggression in view of their experiences as part of Generations X and Y. Community policing is beginning to dominate the way police deal with crime. The concept of community policing stresses empowerment at the lowest levels of the organization. Police management can be threatened in community policing by the loss of power and status that took them years to attain.
In community policing, organizational leaders, in dealing with subordinates, should reject the coercive leadership style and promote total quality management, which stresses listening to others and coaching and fostering the personal development of employees. Traditional police officers would say that “this won’t happen in my lifetime” and that it would occur only when the traditional police officers are gone. Leaders must involve all members of the organization in the development of the values statement of the program. Involvement on the part of the members of the organization creates commitment.
One of the most important leadership tools—the organization’s mission and values (guiding principles)— can be used to develop credibility in the marketplace that will enhance recruiting efforts and develop professional pride that will encourage employee retention. Marketing strategies can be used to project a positive image of law enforcement. Empowerment allows officers an opportunity to develop personal skills as an active member of the organization. Officers can be given diverse assignments as a means of retaining their interest.
However, even in community policing, police officers must have respect for rank, comprehension of the chain of command, the ability to follow orders, and a commitment to the department and their fellow officers. Anything less endangers the safety and wellbeing of themselves and their fellow police officers. The selection process of police officers becomes one of the most important factors influencing a police department. A proposed solution in some states is the lowering of standards. Instead, agencies should try to raise job satisfaction and professionalism. Conclusions
Selection of police officers has become a difficult, complex, and many-faceted process that involves dealing with the changing personality characteristics of police officers from Generations X and Y. Knowledge of the characteristics of the generations by those involved in the hiring process (e. g. , police chiefs, civil service commissioners, psychiatrists) will diminish the possibility of negligent hiring, reduce problems with citizens that are anticipated in the coming years, and result in greater opportunities for better training and retention of police officers.