The Sandbox is a new initiative at TJCOG focused on breaking down silos in government; encouraging unique, "inside-the-sandbox" ideas and solutions; and providing a space to freely think about the most challenging issues in our region. Stakeholders are encouraged to play without consequences and build imperfect ideas within the Sandbox space and programs.


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Recruitment and Retention of Law Enforcement Professionals

Submitted by the Town of Garner Police Department

Police departments across the region are struggling with unprecedented difficulty to recruit and retain qualified candidates and sworn staff. Most specifically, there is a struggle to attract a diverse staff comprised of minorities and females to better reflect the communities the departments serve. 

  • Recruitment has been difficult for years, but finding qualified candidates became even more prevalent after the Ferguson, Missouri riots in 2014. 
  • Social media and its impacts have raised renewed questions about police-community relations and the use of force white officers, particularly involving young black males. 
  • Perception of the profession has attributed to fewer applicants and many local communities completing their hiring process without identifying a single qualified candidate.

Why the Challenge Must be Solved

  1. Position vacancies result in delayed response times, reduced proactive enforcement efforts and limited police-community engagement efforts.
  2. Vacancies are not just a law enforcement issue. They are a community issue that impacts crime rates, traffic safety and overall quality of life for citizens.

The Obstacles

  • A lack of competitive salary and benefits compared to the private sector.
  • The "risk vs. reward" aspect regarding police officer safety in the field.
  • An existing bias against law enforcement in many communities. 
  • An inability from the profession to demonstrate the benefits that come from a law enforcement career.

Previous Work to Address The Challenge

Police Departments across the region have made efforts to remain competitive on salary and benefits. Communities, including the Town of Garner, have expanded advertising and outreach, engaged the community for support identifying potential candidates, and enhanced outreach with Basic Law Enforcement Training providers. Some organizations have seen an increase in applications by hiring non-trained individuals and then sending them to training. For retention, organizations have started providing incentives for additional training and responsibilities.


The Sandbox Institute

The Sandbox Institute aims to leverage limited public funding resources to provide local government staff and partners across diverse agency types more opportunity to learn the skills necessary to think and act innovatively and strategically about their day-to-day work and community vision.

Available Course Offerings:

Lean Government "Train the Trainer" Certificate

Lean Government 225 with NC State Industry Expansion Solutions