Americans understand at some level that policing is in trouble.
It’s one thing to have hunches; to know that cops are resigning en masse; to watch as officers are assaulted, ambushed, and indicted for simply doing their jobs; and to hear the frustrations of rank-and-file officers. Having those suspicions confirmed from seasoned police leaders who work to protect rank-and-file cops, however, makes the situation that much more real and pressing.
This afternoon I had the privilege of attending a virtual briefing for the Day on the Hill, hosted by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) as a civilian. One of the panel members said this:
“Policing is in Existential Crisis”
This is obvious by the dangerously-low staffing levels police departments around the country are experiencing.
More cops are leaving the profession than are entering it. Of 194 police departments responding to a 2021 Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) survey, 93% are filling their available positions. The number of recruitments is being outpaced by a 45% increase in police retirements and an 18% increase in resignations. Many early retirees are veteran police officers, who leave with experience that can take a good 10 years for new recruits to acquire.
I explain here why these numbers are unsustainable, as well as how understaffed police departments harm us all
It’s not just the numbers that are taking a hit. The quality of applicants is decreasing. One panel member today said that police departments can no longer pick the “best and brightest” candidates – and that we can expect this to be the case for at least the next five years.
Not only can we anticipate longer response times when we call for service, but the cops that do show up may not be the caliber we’ve come to expect in our guardians.
We Need More People Willing to Put Out This Fire
What struck me is that there were so few attendees at today’s briefing. Everyone gets busy, forgets, has other engagements, or feels that their voice doesn’t matter. I get it.
Yet I’ve seen this same theme -few showing up when it really counts- replay over and over again. Staying hidden or complaining about the problem anonymously on social media is not working. It’s going to take more of us who care about law & order to change this trajectory.
The thing is, we have something very powerful in our corner: our American right to lobby our elected representatives.
Our government has a basic responsibility to protect its citizenry from harm. When police officers -the only people standing between us and anarchy- are being hunted down, micromanaged, used as political pawns, villainized, and targeted by zealous prosecutors, they can’t function as effectively. So yes, ensuring that our cops have what they need to adequately do their jobs is indeed a pressing matter of public safety.
In upcoming issues, I’ll offer ways that we as citizens can help stop this dangerous path we’re on, as well as how to support police officers in your area.
If you want to get started right now, consider creating legislation in your state that benefits the families of fallen police officers. And as I’ll be discussing the Protect & Serve Act, you might want to get a head start in learning about this important legislation.
Please keep in mind that I’m just a citizen volunteer (this is not my full-time job) so there may be times when my communications are delayed.
Thanks for taking the time to read.
We are appreciative of our partnership with For The Blue. This article originally appeared here.