Looking for a Job in Law Enforcement—The Police are Looking Too

Written by Victor E. Kappeler, Ph.D.

If you are looking for a job in law enforcement it might be helpful to know where and how police agencies go about looking for high-quality applicants. According to government research (BJS, 2012), the vast majority of law enforcement agencies actively recruit applicants for police positions. In fact, among the largest police agencies about half employ at least one or more full-time recruitment officers.

While law enforcement agencies use the typical forms of recruitment, like newspaper and television advertisements, they also use techniques that might be less than obvious to many job seekers. Two of the more interesting methods of recruitment that give college students an advantage over others are personal contacts and job/career fairs. As indicated in the chart below, about 74 percent of all local and state police agencies use personal contact as a recruitment tool. Likewise, about 70 percent of these agencies send representatives to job fairs to recruit applicants for sworn police positions.

Jobs in law enforcement - recruitment
Many of these job fairs take place at universities and local community colleges that give students and the public an opportunity to meet with police recruiters. The College of Justice and Safety at Eastern Kentucky University, for example, hosts one or two job fairs every year and invites the attendance of law enforcement agencies from around the country. It is not uncommon for dozens of state, federal and local law enforcement recruiters to attend these fairs. Also, students taking college classes in both our on-campus and online Police Studies programs have the opportunity to meet and network with other students who are already working in law enforcement. If you are looking for a job in policing, it makes sense to look where the police look.

Victor E. Kappeler, Ph.D.
Associate Dean and Foundation Professor
School of Justice Studies
Eastern Kentucky University


BJS (2012). Hiring and Retention of State and Local Law Enforcement Officers, 2008 –Statistical Tables. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs: Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Published on November 05, 2013