|We Are Running Out Of Cops and Correctional Officers|
There is a new survey by the Police Executive Research Forum documenting what scores of newspaper articles throughout the country have cited, police officers are leaving, and recruitment is becoming impossible.
ABC News (direct quotes-rearranged for brevity)
Police agencies across the country are having trouble keeping and hiring police officers, according to a new survey obtained by ABC News.
Produced by the Police Executive Research Forum, the survey shows a “triple threat” for police departments: there is a decrease in applications, early exits and higher rates of retirement.
Agencies participating in the survey reported that there has been a 63% decrease in applying to become a police officer. Departments are also having trouble hiring non-white/minority applicants the most, followed by female officers, according to the survey.
Montgomery County, Maryland, just outside of the nation’s capital, felt the hit because of increased racial profiling incidents, when someone is targeted because of their race of ethnicity, according to acting Police Chief Marcus Jones.
“I can’t ignore that that’s a factor. When you do a job that’s being highly criticized on a daily basis, we have to ask ourselves, how do we find good candidates that really want to be under that type of scrutiny,” Jones said, according to Bethesda Magazine. “If you feel like you’re being scrutinized all the time, then this may not be the career that you want, so we understand that that may be a roadblock for us.”
The survey encompasses agencies from 45 states, the District of Columbia and Canada — with the majority of answers coming from medium-sized departments, ABC News.
But it’s not just the numbers; there are important ramifications for all Americans to consider:
From 2015 to 2018, the total number of violent victimizations increased by 28%. The rate of total violent victimizations also increased. The number of violent incidents increased from 5.2 million in 2017 to 6.0 million in 2018, Violent Crime Increases. There is additional data stating that violent crime is becoming more serious in nature.
Police Contacts Down
Police initiated contacts are down by huge numbers, Proactive Contacts. Arrests are also down considerably, Arrests. Is the immense negativity thrown at cops causing them to pull back?
Per Pew, 72% say officers in their department are now less willing to stop and question suspicious persons. Overall, more than eight-in-ten (86%) say police work is harder today as a result of high-profile, negative incidents.
About nine-in-ten officers (93%) say their colleagues worry more about their personal safety – a level of concern recorded even before a total of eight officers died in separate ambush-style attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Cops Holding Back?
The data on police PTSD, suicides, drug and alcohol use and general stress is well documented, see Police Stress. Is policing becoming too hard, too emotionally draining? Is that why recruitment and retention are problems?
Does Policing Change You?
There are endless references as to how being a cop changes your personality. “How many domestic violence calls can you handle? How many people shot? How much blood? How many abused children? How much violence can you process?” Crime in America.
The rate of full-time police officers decreased by 11 percent from 1997 to 2016, Declining Cops.
But Public Confidence in Law Enforcement is High
The data states that policing is one of the most respected professions in the US and the world, and research documents that the overwhelming number of people stopped by law enforcement felt that they acted responsibly, Confidence in Police.
Eighty-five percent of Americans either have a great deal or some confidence in law enforcement. The media and Congress are at the bottom of the ratings.
An estimated 40 million U.S. residents age 16 or older, or about 17 percent of the population, had a face-to-face contact with a police officer in one year. Among people who had face-to-face contacts, about nine out of 10 residents felt the police were respectful or acted properly, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Having said this, it’s inevitable that out of 40 million yearly encounters, some will go bad. It’s a statistical reality. Per the Bureau of Justice Statistics study, police used or threatened to use force in less than two percent of contacts.
Even in fragile communities (i.e., high unemployment), a study finds that 74% of fragile-community residents vs. 87% of Americans overall think people like themselves are treated “very fairly” or “fairly” by their local police. The results vary by racial group: Black (65%) and Hispanic (72%) residents of fragile communities are considerably less likely than white residents (87%) to say people like themselves are treated fairly by police, Gallup.
I know of people who are telling their police officer family members to, “Get out of law enforcement. And get out now.”
There are endless stories of officers being shot, shot at and beaten. New York City has dozens of incidents where people are brazenly throwing water and other substances on cops as they patrol. In Baltimore, Chicago, and many other cities, officers are facing extremely hostile community members.
There are negative stories about police use of force and while some are deserved, some are distortions.
Cops are being berated for misuse of social media in a variety of newspapers.
Years ago, I became a cop based on my pride in the job and the satisfaction that the vast majority of citizens appreciated what I did. Take that away and many believe that being a police officer is meaningless.
We are losing a ton of cops. Proactive (self-initiated) contacts are down. Violent crime and serious violent incidents are going up per one index from the US Department of Justice.
There may come a time, and it may happen sooner than we think, where we see more dangerous communities and increased threats to families and loved ones.
We’ve been very hard on cops and yes, some of the negative publicity is accurate.
But we may be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If there is any question as to the impact of cops on society, then remove them and see what happens.
But with the new data, we may be doing that now. The results could be disastrous for cities and many communities.
See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.
Reprinted with permission from https://www.crimeinamerica.net.
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Leonard A. Sipes, Jr has thirty-five years of experience supervising public affairs for national and state criminal justice agencies. He is the Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse and the Former Director of Information Management for the National Crime Prevention Council. He has a Post Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and is the author of the book "Success With the Media". He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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