Exploring recruits’ motivations to enter policing in Small Island Developing States: The case of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service

Publication Date01 December 2021
AuthorWendell C. Wallace
Date01 December 2021
Exploring recruits’ motivations to enter
policing in Small Island Developing
States: The case of the Trinidad and
Tobago Police Service
Wendell C. Wallace
The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago
Internationally, there is a substantial amount of research on motivations to enter the police profession; however, scant
research attention has been paid to the motivations of individuals in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as Trinidad
and Tobago who choose policing as a career path. As a result, this research was designed to analyze motivations for
entering the police profession by gathering data from recruits who had recently entered police academy training in
Trinidad and Tobago. The research utilized a quantitative approach with self-administered questionnaires as the data-
gathering instrument. Using data collected from 160 police recruits at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS)
police academy who were two months into their induction training, this study attempts to answer four questions related
to their motivations for entering policing. Statistical analyses of the data included comparisons between groups in the
sample (males/females) to determine the existence of competing motivations. The results indicate that job security was
the main motivation for entry into the TTPS an d that the motivations of male recruits were mo re altruistic when
compared with those of female recruits, which were generally self-serving. Other results and implications for policy
are discussed.
Policing, motivations, recruits, Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, Small Island Developing States
Submitted 14 Jul 2020, Revise received 22 Apr 2021, accepted 05 May 2021
For individuals who enter the police profession, there is a
wide array of competing motivations (Wu et al., 2009). In
Do¨rneyi’s (2005: 303) opinion, “motivation is a concept to
account for factors within the organism which arouse,
maintain, and channel behavior toward a goal”, while
Gupta (2002) points out that motivati on is an important
management tool, especially in organizations that are heav-
ily reliant on the skills and ability of humans. However, just
as policing is a difficult and complex task (Cox et al.,
2017), so too is the decision to become a police officer due
to competing motivations, variables and personal factors
that intersect in the process of deciding whether or not to
enter the profession. This motivational complexity is global
in nature and individuals in Trinidad and Tobago are not
In Trinidad and Tobago, some members of the public
view police officers with scorn and derision and often com-
ment that police officers are lazy, uneducated and corrupt
(Bowling, 2010). This modern-day view of police officers
on the island has historical roots because policing in Trini-
dad and Tobago has traditionally been viewed as a job for
Corresponding author:
Wendell C. Wallace, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine,
Department of Behavioural Sciences Building, Carmody Road, Room 7,
Trinidad and Tobago.
Email: Wendell.Wallace@sta.uwi.edu
International Journalof
Police Science & Management
ªThe Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/14613557211021862
2021, Vol. 23(4) 345–357

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