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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

145 N Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20530

November 2022 | Volume 15 | Issue 11

Law enforcement recruiting challenges represent a major hurdle in efforts to achieve effective community policing.

Community policing requires a commitment between our police officers and their communities to build trust and mutual respect. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) says community policing “is critical to public safety, ensuring that all stakeholders work together to address our nation's crime challenges.” The Veterans’ Transition Forum (VTF) embraces that philosophy and is tapping into the most potent resource available to build trust and respect between our citizens and the law enforcement agencies entrusted to serve and protect them: our nation’s military veterans.

The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) said, in its “Issues to Watch in 2022” letter to members, “The recruiting crisis will remain a major challenge.” PERF’s 2021 Survey on Police Workforce Trends found that retirements and resignations have increased significantly. Key findings include evidence that, in the past two years, law enforcement resignations increased by 18 percent and retirements by 45 percent. Even though recruiters are trying new approaches, too few qualified candidates are applying.

Our communities suffer unless our police and other law enforcement officers are the best we have to offer, with the right tools and training to get the job done.

Community policing is a people-centered concept; trust and respect require strong interpersonal relationships built through time. Those relationships can’t happen without mature and properly trained police and other law enforcement professionals. VTF has identified an abundant source of mature and readily trained young men and women: our military veterans. Approximately 166,000 veterans aged 18–44 are currently unemployed; another 200,000 service members will leave active duty this year and each year going forward.

Military service and service as a law enforcement professional have many similar obligations and responsibilities, and they share the satisfaction of understanding the important role they play in our society. Nearly 25 percent of today’s law enforcement community has a military background. VTF aims to increase that participation rate by fully implementing our Keep America Safe program.

A solution to police recruiting challenges: VTF’s Keep America Safe program.

The Keep America Safe program leverages our veterans’ maturity and experience in de-escalating or appropriately managing stressful, often violent, situations; their passion for service to their community; and the key qualities of being drug free, physically fit, and respectful of the laws governing our society.

Keep America Safe connects transitioning service members and veterans, who have already entered the civilian workforce, to state and local law enforcement agencies (LEA). After providing basic information such as the nature of their discharge from active service, date of availability, and desired residential location, the veteran will be identified as a candidate to appropriate police departments, sheriffs’ offices, or other LEAs that participate in the Keep America Safe program. VTF staff then follows up with both the veteran and the interested LEA to ensure the process is working smoothly to allow the most timely and accurate placement of qualified law enforcement officers into our communities – the veteran’s new home.

As an important benefit to participating LEAs, VTF’s strategic approach expands their recruiting program to the national level at no cost to the LEA or to the veteran. VTF operates the Keep America Safe program strictly on donations and grants provided by individual donors and charitable organizations. It is also completing a full review of the LEAs that enrolled prior to 2022 to ensure their continued desire to participate in the program and is marketing veteran enrollment materials at a select number of U.S. Department of Defense Transition Assistance Centers.

As this program continues to grow and show results, such as improved community policing, VTF seeks strategic partners that will help spread the word as well as provide the funds to continue to grow and operate the Keep America Safe program. Anyone interested in partnering with VTF can contact them at 888-725-5557 or

Brian Morgan
Director of Development
Veterans’ Transition Forum

Phil Trigg
Executive Director
Veterans’ Transition Forum

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