Academy Retention

The percentage of trainees who resigned or were dismissed from the Police Academy

Equity Score
Indicator scores are represented on a scale from 1 to 100.
Disparity Ratio
Disparity direction: black-white
Trainees who resigned or were dismissed from the Police Academy

Black trainees are more than three times as likely to resign or be dismissed from the Police Academy as white trainees.

Source: St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department; American Communit y Survey 1-year estimates

A score of 100 represents racial equity, meaning there are no racial disparities in outcomes. The lower the Equity Score, the greater the disparity.

For Academy Retention, a score of 100 — a score reflecting racial equity — would mean black and white trainees are equally likely to resign or be dismissed from the Police Academy. It is important to note that for this indicator, equity is not our only goal: we also want to improve outcomes for all. 

More Information

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What does this indicator measure?

Academy Retention measures the percentage of trainees who resigned or were dismissed from the Police Academy. Of the 87 trainees that applied in 2017, 14 (or 16.1%) resigned or were dismissed from the Police Academy.

Academy Retention analysis

Trainees who resigned or were dismissed from the Police Academy in St. Louis City.

  All Black White Disparity Ratio Equity Score
Trainee resignations or dismissals 14 7 6 - -
Trainees 87 20 62 - -
Retention failure rate 16.1% 35.0% 9.7% 3.617 to 1 30

Data Source: St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, 2017; American Community Survey 1-year estimates, 2016.

Data Note: We followed the outcomes of only applicants who applied in 2017. Our analysis does not include trainees in 2017 who applied in prior years. 11 trainees who applied in 2017 were still in the Police Academy at the time of publication. 

What does this analysis mean?

Black trainees are nearly four times more likely to resign or be dismissed from the Police Academy than white trainees. In 2017, 35% of black trainees resigned or were dismissed from the Academy compared to 9.7% of white trainees. One of the five trainees of other races and ethnicities, including Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asians. If the retention failure rate were equitable, only two black trainees in 2017 would have resigned or been dismissed.

Why does Academy Retention matter?

The City invests in attracting minority candidates to the Police Department, but fewer black trainees are completing the process and becoming officers. Cumulatively, this is a major contributor to the lack of black representation in the police force. When black trainees consistently fail to graduate from the Police Academy, it sends an inadvertent message to potential applicants, especially those within trainee networks, that they will not succeed with SLMPD. This poor track record may also demoralize those organizations and individuals working to attract candidates to the Police Department. 

A police department that reflects the communities it serves is more likely to operate with trust, accountability, and cultural awareness. The racial disparity in training graduation rate suggests it may take a long time for the police force to reflect the population of the city.

Which Calls to Action from the Ferguson Commission report are linked with this indicator?

Though there is not a specific Call to Action about police demographics, equitable staffing practices have been shown to contribute to the overall vision of a culturally competent, community-oriented, and trusted police department. Police reforms to build trust between communities and police officers are central to the Ferguson Commission report. 

Questions for further investigation

  • Why is there a racial disparity in Academy Retention? 
  • What can St. Louis do to reduce racial disparities in Academy Retention?
  • What initiatives are currently underway to reduce racial disparities in Academy Retention?

How can I learn more about this issue?

The Ethical Society of Police Recruitment Program is working to prepare minority candidates for the rigors of the application process and Police Academy.

Cadet Program

This year, the City of St. Louis has launched a new Cadet Initiative in partnership with the St. Louis Police Foundation. This initiative will provide paid experience and mentoring for young people ages 18-25. For recent high school graduates, the Cadet program will provide training and employment until they are able to join the Academy at age 21. 

What’s happening with the Cadet Program?

As of July 2018, there are 27 young people enrolled in the first class of the Cadet Program. 20 of the 27 are minority race and 13 are women. They were recruited primarily from North County Tech, St. Louis Community College, Forest Park Community College, and University of Missouri- St. Louis. 

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