Police Departments Struggling to Replenish Their Ranks

AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe

After two years of seemingly non-stop anti-police sentiment, law enforcement agencies across the country are struggling to replenish their ranks after record-level resignations that occurred in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Police departments are doing their best to recover from the devastating impact of the “Defund the Police” movement as crime rates remain high. But can cities bounce back from the damage wrought by anti-police progressives?

The Wall Street Journal reported:

Police departments across the country are struggling to find capable new recruits … amid a rash of departures in the wake of the unrest sparked by the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Few young people like the idea of a lengthy career in a dangerous profession at a time of rising concerns about crime, law-enforcement officials say. Fewer still are interested in the kind of blowback police have received in recent years.

Police resignations were 42.7% higher in 2021 than 2019, according to a recent survey of 184 police departments in the U.S. and Canada by Mr. Wexler’s group. And while hiring largely bounced back in 2021 from a 20.5% drop in 2020, last year’s hirings were still 3.9% below 2019 levels.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is one of many agencies trying to rebuild after its ranks fell to 9,300 from over 10,000 in 2019. “In the fiscal year ended June 30, the department hired 574 officers, above the average of 500 in recent years,” according to WSJ. “But that followed a class with just 174 recruits because money for new hires was diverted to anti-gang programs and other areas.”

Phoenix, Arizona, is hoping to entice new recruits with a $20,000 increase in pay for new officers.

The Chicago Police Department lost about 1,300 officers over the past two years. The agency did little recruiting during the COVID-19 pandemic despite seeing a significant increase in retirements. Now, about 100 officers per month are graduating from the city’s police academy due to expanded outreach.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, the police department lost 48 officers from 2019 to the present. “In 2021, 191 people applied for 66 slots in the police academy, as compared with 705 applicants for 26 slots in 2012,” according to WSJ.

Dekalb County, Georgia, is also trying to recuperate from the past two years. CBS 46 reported that the county’s CEO Michael Thurmond “is proposing a plan to increase police officer pay that he said would make DeKalb County officers among the best paid, if not the best, in the state for a large jurisdiction.”

“Across the board increases for new recruits, increases for veteran officers as well as continuing to improve our pension plan,” Thurmond explained. “It will be a significant increase between 5 and 10% in terms of starting salary.”

In a press release published last month, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Robert J. Contee III announced a $20,000 hiring bonus to recruit more officers, especially individuals who reside in the city.

“We know how critical it is to have a fully staff and resourced MPD, and that requires us to hire strong talent and to retain experienced officers. These hiring bonuses will help MPD recruit and hire more officers to keep our city safe,” said Mayor Bowser. “My message to the community is this: If you’re looking for a way to serve our community, if you like interacting with people, if you like helping people, if you want to work at the best police department in the country, then go to and consider a career at MPD.”

Major cities experienced a rapid decline in the number of police officers patrolling the streets amid the chaos that ensued after footage showing the murder of George Floyd went viral on social media and the airwaves. Democrats engaged in a full-on campaign to demonize members of law enforcement, tying them to the actions of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and others who abused their authority. Progressives bullied, pressured, and cajoled local governments into slashing law enforcement budgets. The result was a nationwide increase in criminal activity that has not yet seen a downturn, largely because of police departments being understaffed.

Currently, Democrats – especially moderates – have backed away from the radical approach of the “Defund the Police” movement. President Joe Biden even attempted to distance himself from the extreme anti-police campaign pushed by the progressive left. Of course, there are indications that his supposed opposition to that particular movement isn’t quite as sincere as he would have us believe.

But while these agencies will likely be back at full staff eventually, the image problem remains. The “bad apples” among law enforcement are still being used to vilify anyone wearing a badge and police departments are looking for ways to rehabilitate their perception in the court of public opinion. This will not be easy with the activist media seeking to paint them as racist abusers of black and Latino Americans. As long as there are corrupt individuals who violate their oaths and the rights of the citizens they abuse, the left will always have fuel for their anti-police campaign. But perhaps those with more level heads can address issues with policing without painting all officers as tyrannical racists if they figure out how to counteract the poison coming from the progressive left.


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