Police Recruitment Shortage, Rise In Retirements Plaguing Departments

Amid the constant drumbeat of “defund the police” from the Left, American cities are facing a problem stemming in part from those calls.

Problems like increasingly severe shortages of police recruits and an uptick in retirements by those who sense the time to get out is now.

A new report from Axios details the attempt by major metropolitan areas to recruit and retain police after last summer’s death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the ensuing calls for defunding or even dismantling police departments, and officers being vilified as racists.

Of particular note in the Axios piece, “The trend comes as activists in some cities suggest there could be another “long, hot summer” of unrest in the name of ending police brutality and racial inequity.”

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Police Recruiting In Blue Cities

Police recruiting, particularly in some Democrat-run cities, is not going very well.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, the last Republican mayor served in 2009, but for roughly 22 years the city has, in large part, been run by Democrats. Applications for the police academy are down 26% compared to this time last year.

In Des Moines, Iowa, the scenario is the same, Democrats have run things for nearly 25 years, there was a 50% drop in academy applications.

At the heart of last summer’s protests in Minneapolis, which saw its last GOP mayor in 1973, the number of officers patrolling the streets has dropped from 817 to 638.

St. Louis, Missouri has not seen a Republican mayor since 1949. The newly elected Democrat mayor says she supports cutting between 100 and 200 officer positions that have been deemed “Chronically vacant.” See a pattern?

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Shortages And The Demoralization Of The Job 

While the COVID pandemic was certainly a factor in recruitment in America’s cities, police officials and police union leaders say the the shortage is moving into crisis territory.

Mike Neilon, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 says, “It’s the perfect storm. We are anticipating that the department is going to be understaffed by several hundred members, because hundreds of guys are either retiring or taking other jobs and leaving the department.”

Pat Colligan, president of the New Jersey State Policeman’s Benevolent Association, addressed the demoralization that many officers are feeling on the job: “Every action has a reaction. When you vilify every police officer for every bad police officer’s decision, [people] don’t want to take this job anymore.”

Jack Rinchich, president of the 4,000 member strong National Association of Chiefs of Police, mentioned actions by mayors such as disbanding SWAT and K-9 units, and cutting budgets as other reasons for low morale and feeling as though elected officials do not have their backs.

Minnesota State Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said it very plainly, “Too many people have thrown the police under the bus. The police in Minnesota, many are very demoralized because of the lack of appreciation for the work that they do.”

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There Is Some Good News

Not every big city police department is seeing the problem. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, who is also a former police chief, says that she had no intention of touching the police budget.

She said, “We’re one of the safest cities in the U.S. for our size, and that’s because our police department and our community work hand-in-hand to make their neighborhoods safe.”

Ryan Tarkowski, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Police, also says that they have not had a problem getting qualified applicants. He credits the good starting pay and benefits, and also the the wide range of opportunities that officers have to advance their careers.

But Jack Rinchich says what a lot of those officers contemplating leaving the job or retiring altogether might be thinking, “Hey, I’ve gone 20, 30 years without being sued, shot, or divorced. I’m going to get out while I have an opportunity.”


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