Motivations for becoming a police officer: Re-assessing officer attitudes and job satisfaction after six years on the street

Michael White, Jonathon A. Cooper, Jessica Saunders, Anthony J. Raganella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Few studies had examined the stability of motivations for becoming a police officer over time, especially among minority and female officers. Moreover, research had not explored the links between original motivations and job satisfaction, a likely proxy measure of motivation fulfillment. The current research was a follow-up to Raganella and White (2004) who examined motivations among academy recruits in the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Using the same survey and analysis, this study re-examined motivations among officers from the same NYPD recruit class after six years on the job, and explored both motivation stability and the relationships among motivations and job satisfaction. Results suggested that motivations have remained highly stable over time, regardless of officer race/ethnicity and gender. Findings also suggested that White male officers were most likely to report low job satisfaction, and that there is a link between low satisfaction and unfulfilled motivations. Moreover, dissatisfied officers were much less likely to have expressed strong commitment to the profession through their original motivations, suggesting that low commitment up front may lead to low satisfaction later on. The article concludes with a discussion of implications for police departments, particularly with regard to recruitment and retention practices and efforts to achieve diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)520-530
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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