Date of Award

Spring 2-19-2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy

Department

Education Leadership, Management and Policy

Advisor

Daniel Gutmore, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Richard Blissett, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christopher J. Hynes, D.Min.

Keywords

Law Enforcement, Turnover, police attrition, Transit Police

Abstract

Employees are an organization’s most valuable asset. Unfortunately, law enforcement as a whole has been faced with an epidemic of staff retention, which includes police officers. Police departments, such as New Jersey Transit and across the country, have had to deal with police officers’ voluntary separation. Since its inception, the NJ Transit Police Department has had a long history of struggling to keep staff, and turnover within the department has an impact on expenses, resources, ridership, and taxpayers. Not only are police officers valuable, but they are also very costly (Wareham et al., 2015). Recruiting and hiring costs tend to be much higher for police agencies than for many other types of organizations, because of recruitment costs, advertising, training, and other areas of recruitment activities (Coyle et al., 2008). The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 7.4% of full-time sworn personnel separated from state and local law enforcement agencies within the United States (Reaves, 2012). Koper (2004) estimated that 20% of officers would retire from smaller police agencies, whereas the number grows to 49% when considering larger police agencies. Officers who resigned from smaller agencies continued to work in law enforcement elsewhere at a rate of 45% within the first five years compared to 24% from larger agencies. Because of the economic climate, the New Jersey Transit Police, like many other departments across New Jersey and the country, are faced with budget reductions. The agency runs at a 1.28 billion dollar loss yearly (NJ Transit Corp, 2018). NJ Transit was established as a corporation but receives public funding. The loss of law enforcement personnel is extraordinarily detrimental and costly to the agency, ridership, and the taxpayer. This is the issue that drives this study. The research was conducted with data provided by former officers of New Jersey Transit Police who voluntarily separated their employment from 2000 through 2018. A regression was carried out to determine if demographics of gender, race, salary, education level, military status, marital status, and child dependency, can predict the length of service of a voluntarily separated officer while controlling for age. The study also considers the perspective of morale and self-efficacy of the voluntarily separated officer. A Likert scale was used to determine the mean morale as well as the level of self-efficacy of voluntarily separated New Jersey Transit police officers. When age was entered the result was a significant predictor, accounting for 65%, while including the remaining variables only increased the results by 6 %. All salary groups are significant. The beta weight of salary at 70 to 79 thousand suggests it is the highest predictor of length of service at .25. The coefficients indicated that gender is significant at .08, moderately significant using a .10 threshold. The beta coefficient of gender is .159 and favors females staying longer at a rate of 5.4 years, contributing 4% to the model. Aside from gender and all salary groups, the rest of the variables explain less than one percent (< 1%) and are not significant. Those who have separated reported self-efficacy slightly below good or above neutral range, and the overall group’s morale of departed officers was neutral. The majority of officers who voluntarily resigned did so within five years of service. These findings can provide this agency and others with insight into their internal turnover. Retention savings can then be redirected to beneficial programs, equipment, and materials instead of the economically draining hiring and rehiring process.

Available for download on Sunday, March 06, 2022

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