Demoralized and Demonized: Police Departments Face 'Workforce Crisis' as Officers Leave in Droves
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Demoralized and demonized. Police officers are walking away from the job in unprecedented numbers all across America.
The latest example: Rochester, New York.
Six months after Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old black man, died after an encounter with Rochester police officers, the city's police chief and entire command staff announced suddenly that they were retiring.
Chief La'Ron Singletary, a 22-year veteran with the force, accused his critics of trying to destroy his character and integrity over the death of Prude, who lost consciousness after police held him down with a spit-hood over his head. The incident led to violent protests and calls for police reform.
"Chief Singletary will remain in charge of the department through the end of the month. And I know that he and the officers will fulfill their duties," Rochester's Mayor Lovely Warren said late Tuesday.
From Colorado to New York City to Seattle, police officers are resigning or retiring early in unprecedented numbers. The push to defund police departments, massive budget cuts and calls for police reform, have left officers demoralized and demonized so they are walking off the job.
In Seattle, a video goes viral after a police officer tells a Black Lives Matter protestor that he's quitting.
"Don't worry man, because guess what? I'm leaving," said the unidentified Seattle police officer. "You guys won. I got two months baby, then I'm out."
The protester who is filming the officer asks: "You are about to resign?"
"I'm about to be gone," replied the officer while sitting in his police cruiser.
"How you feeling about that?" asked the protester. "I'm feeling great," responded the officer.
In Chicago, where 24 police officers retire on average each month, 51 are scheduled to leave this month after 59 left in August. More than 100 officers leaving the force in just two months.
The head of a police pension fund in Chicago calling the retirements "unheard of".
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In New York City, which has experienced huge spikes in violence this summer, a record 179 officers filed for retirement in July compared to the 35 who left the job at the same time last year.
The majority of those officers left after Mayor Bill de Blasio cut a billion dollars from the department's budget.
"A five to ten percent reduction in a police budget means that they are going to lose some law enforcement personnel because the personnel portion of the budget is the most significant part of the police budget so that impacts police services, that impacts public safety," Dr. Patrick Oliver, Director of the Criminal Justice Program at Cedarville University, told CBN News.
In Colorado, more than 200 officers resigned after the state passed a police reform law.
In Austin, Texas, the number of police officers and cadets leaving the force has more than doubled since 2017. It jumped another 34 percent in the first six months of this year compared to 2019.
Research also shows experienced police officers are retiring nationwide at a faster rate than ever before.
"People who are eligible for retirement will rarely leave that retirement on the table, so it's people who are eligible for retirement and maybe they were going to stay for five more years, but based on concerns they have, they decide to leave sooner, so you are losing the most experienced people," said Oliver.
It's a similar story playing out in other big and small cities prompting the Police Executive Research Forum to declare a "workforce crisis" as police departments across the country face the challenge of recruiting new officers and holding on to the ones they have.
"It takes about a year to a year-and-a-half to hire a new police officer and for that person to be ready to go in the field to function and do those duties," Oliver told CBN News.
One fallout from the police exodus in the last few months has been exploding crime rates.
The latest stats from the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice show homicides up in big cities like New York, Philadelphia and Chicago around the same time officers around the country were deciding to leave the job.
While months of protests over policing tactics appear to be taking a toll on some of those who signed up to serve and protect our communities, Dr. Oliver, a retired police chief, says the profession of policing is a noble one.
"It's more criticized, it's more publicly visible than it's ever been, but I still think it's a good profession, a noble profession, a desirable profession and it's one that should be sought by people who want to make a difference in their communities."
Still, tensions continue to boil four months after the death of George Floyd.
From coast to coast, demonstrators are on the streets demanding an end to police brutality.
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