American Police Officers Are Quitting in Droves. Why?

Published June 14th, 2021 - 08:01 GMT
BLM protests in the US
BLM protests erupted after the death of black man George Floyd. (Shutterstock)
Between April 2020 and April 202, 2,600 New York cops retired - almost double the 1,509 retirements clocked the year before

Police retirements have risen by 45 percent in the past year, with officers opting out of forces across the country amid Black Lives Matter demonstrations that fueled anti-cop rhetoric. 

The alarming statistic was revealed by the Police Executive Research Forum on Sunday, with the organization also revealing that resignations rose by 18 percent during the same twelve month period.  

'It is an evolving crisis,' Chuck Wexler, the organization's executive director, told The New York Times, adding that police forces are also struggling to attract new recruits. 

Anti-police sentiment was sparked by the murder of George Floyd by white cop Derick Chauvin in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. 

It prompted some politicians to say they were in favor of abolishing or defunding police forces across the United States. Commissioners claimed that rhetoric caused a spike in violent crime and led officers to feel betrayed by their elected officials. 

New York City, for instance, saw large-scale BLM marches during which some participants threw bottles at police and set their patrol cars on fire. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio subsequently slashed $1 billion from the NYPD's operating budget, despite a surge in shootings and murders. 

In 2020, 2,600 New York Cops handed in their resignations -  almost double the 1,509 resignations clocked the year before.   

It was a similar story in many police departments in large and mid-size cities around the nation.

In Portland, Oregon, 69 officers resigned and 75 retired between April 2020 and April 2021. That was in comparison to 27 resignations  and 14 retirements the year before.  

In Seattle, Washington, resignations almost quadrupled to 123 from 34 and retirements more than doubled to 96 from 43. 

Meanwhile, in Asheville, North Carolina, Police Chief David Zack told The Times that he had lost about one-third of staff to resignation and retirement.

'Certainly with the way that police have been portrayed and vilified in some cases, they have decided that it is not the life for them,' he stated. 

That negative portrayal also stopped many aspiring cops from signing up to the force. 

In Portland, just 30 people signed up to the department, down from 69 the previous year. In Seattle, the number plummeted almost 60 percent to 44 from 119. 

In Atlanta, Georgia, officers have also been resigning at an 'alarming rate'. 

Last August, an average of more than one cop was quitting their job every single day. In 2020, more than 200 Atlanta officers resigned or retired.  

The Atlanta Police Department, like many across the country, is  also struggling to attract new recruits. 

At present, the force remains more than 400 officers under its authorized level.

The result has been a surge in shootings and other instances of violent crime. 

According to AJC, Atlanta cops have probed 64 homicide cases in 2021, a 58 percent increase from last year. Shootings have surged by 40 percent. 

2020 was already a historically bad year for crime in the city, with 157 reported homicide cases — the most in more than 20 years. 

Officials have started a frantic campaign to try to recruit more officers, despite the fact many of them were spouting anti-police rhetoric just a year ago.  

The department days it plans to hire 250 new recruits in the next fiscal year. 

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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