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Policing agencies in the United States and elsewhere continue to face staff shortages. Calls for greater diversity and different skills among police officers further complicate staffing efforts. Attempts to address these issues typically focus on recruitment and retention. This oversimplifies the problems and leads to piecemeal solutions. We draw on multiple threads of staffing research and field experience to highlight lessons for building effective police workforces. We illustrate the interconnected nature of staffing allocation, workload demand, performance objectives, staff supply and demand, workforce attributes, cohort management, demographic and generational shifts, and systemic circumstances. We suggest that agencies consider staffing from a systems perspective. We illustrate the elements of a police staffing system, discuss the broader ecosystem police staffing must consider, and present a six-step approach for managing police staffing and workload demand. Our lessons should be of interest to all who must address police staffing challenges and community expectations.

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