New reports from across the country show that police departments are unable to keep their numbers up as fewer people are applying to be cops and record numbers of cops are seeking early retirement or simply quitting. There is a police recruitment crisis in America but this should not surprise anyone and can serve as a major opportunity, if we seize it.
Though calls for police accountability have been becoming louder over the last few years, the movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd set off a powder keg which has led to historical reform from coast to coast. As a result of the push to be held accountable for their actions, cops are upset and are leaving the force in record numbers.
According to a report out of New York, more than 5,300 NYPD uniformed officers retired or put in their papers to leave in 2020—a 75 percent spike from the year before.
A whopping 2,600 cops quit the job while another 2,746 officers filed for an early retirement. These number make up approximately 15% of the entire NYPD. The trend is continuing into 2021 as well. As FOX reports, through April 21 of this year, 831 cops have retired or filed to leave—and many more are expected to follow suit in the current anti-cop climate, according to Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“Cops are forming a conga line down at the pension section and I don’t blame them,” Giacalone said, according to FOX. “NYPD cops are looking for better jobs with other departments or even embarking on new careers.”
Naturally, police are playing the victim here and claiming the calls to hold them accountable amount to a war on cops and this is driving them out.
Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch told The Post, “The Mayor and City Council are absolutely trying to abolish the police. They’ve kept our pay absurdly low. They’ve ratcheted up our exposure to lawsuits. They’ve demonized us at every opportunity. And they’ve taken away the tools we need to do the job we all signed up for, which is to keep our communities safe.
“Now the NYPD is spending money on slick recruiting ads to replace the experienced cops who are leaving in droves. City Hall should just admit the truth: police abolition-through-attrition is their goal. They won’t stop until the job has become completely unbearable, and they’re getting closer to that goal with every passing day.”
The trend is not just in New York. In Albuquerque, officers are quitting too and making a spectacle as the do it. Earlier this month, during a police brutality protest, more than a dozen APD officers quit the Emergency Response Team (ERT) following a counterprotest, according to KOB 4.
“This comes down to a lack of trust,” said Shaun Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association.
“They don’t feel supported here, and they don’t feel trust. They feel second guessed, and they don’t feel that they can do their job, no matter how perfect they do their job, without getting in trouble,” Willoughby added.
On the West Coast, the problem is the same. Seattle police officers are leaving the department in droves as well. Hundreds of officers in Seattle have quit the force since the end of last year, according to KIRO 7.
Exit interviews show many cops are retiring early while some are moving to other departments, apparently with less accountability.
While some Americans may see this decline as a negative situation, it is important to examine the possible reasons for it and understand that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can actually be beneficial.
The very essence of policing is being debated in many cities, often because of controversial video recordings of police officers’ actions like Derek Chauvin and others. Community trust has eroded, and the professionalism of the police is being questioned, as it should be.
This questioning is necessary. This scrutiny is deserved. And, this decline in police officers is a sign that things need to change.
There is no doubt that being a police officer can be a grueling, dangerous, and often times extremely unrewarding job. But much of this stress is due to a failed job description.
While many cops out there have saved lives and have been recognized for their heroism, others, who are ‘just doing their jobs’ have continued to drive a wedge between the police and the policed.
Enforcing laws for victimless crimes, extorting people over arbitrary traffic laws like seat belts and window tint, and kidnapping and caging people for marijuana does not make you a hero. It makes you a tool for the prison industrial complex and the police state.
When taking a quick scroll down Facebook posts, websites, and Twitter feeds on any number of subjects, it is easy to find negative comments about police officers. Despite police unions and police apologists claiming these negative comments and criticisms are coming from criminals and thugs, the reality is much different.
Of course murderers, rapists, and thieves hate cops but these are not the people openly criticizing police. This criticism comes from mothers and fathers who’ve watched their children get harassed constantly because of the neighborhoods they live in or the color of their skin.
This criticism comes from the millions of people who have a family member whose life has been ruined because police caught them with a plant. This criticism comes from the millions of other people who have to decide between paying their electricity bill or paying their $300 seat belt ticket.
Many police departments even take to social media to brag about enforcing these laws in which there is no victim. Why, exactly, these departments brag on Facebook about such a waste of taxpayer money and oppression of the poor is a mystery—but they do it—a lot.
The decline in the number of cops is a sign that things need to change. This sign can be taken as an opportunity for Americans to move forward and foster a more free society, or it can be squandered and covered in excuses by playing victim. The choice is ours.
This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.