The police exodus got its noticeable start after the murder of George Floyd in 2020 and the stated leftist goal to defund law enforcement. Officers leaving or quitting the force continued to grow in 2021 as COVID vaccine mandates made their rounds across the nation, forcing some police to conform or quit. Now, two years after Black Lives Matter’s fiery national protests, crime is still rising, and police officer numbers are dwindling. Why are so many still departing?
The Police Exodus Continues
A PERF (Police Executive Research Forum) report from June 2021 found that not only were enrollment numbers lower than usual but also “there was a 45% increase in the retirement rate.” Officers are not delaying retirement, and fear of not being protected by the lawmakers in their cities has a lot to do with it. Retired NYPD Detective Michael Alcazar told Morning in America:
“The city council pretty much makes everything for the criminal. They don’t support the police officers. Police officers don’t know if qualified immunity is on the table. Do they have the protections? If they do their work properly, legally? Are they going to be indemnified by the police department? And that’s something they’re asking themselves. So, if they’re not sure, they’re leaving. They’re retiring, and we’re losing a lot of senior police officers that are valuable in training new young police officers.”
Former Police Chief Kristen Ziman of Aurora, IL, explained what is behind the steady stream of officers retiring:
“I think there’s actually a plethora of reasons that officers are retiring at a higher rate. We look at violent crime. But let’s turn to accountability. We talk a lot about accountability for police officers who tarnish the badge, and by all means, that should be consistent and unyielding. But we also need to talk about accountability for those who break the law. That should be consistent and unyielding as well.”
While on the topic of new recruits, the police exodus reflects the scope of the problem in this area, too. Alcazar said he usually has several students who can’t wait to join the department, but in April, only three were authorized to attend the academy, News Nation reported. And then those students turned down the offer. “They’re apprehensive,” he said, and why wouldn’t they be?
Progressives and activists have villainized the men and women in blue. No longer are they a symbol of respect and trusted authority. Some children of color are being taught to fear them. Criminals are more aggressive, no longer afraid to kill an officer. Some Democratic states have been decriminalizing law violations, releasing more criminals from jail, and cutting benefits and pay.
“It’s something I’ve actually never experienced,” Alcazar, who spent 30 years on the force, said, “or have heard of where police officers are actually quitting in the police academy, quitting before they hit their 20 years.”
In Seattle, WA, a new August report warned that “[u]nprecedented separation numbers have continued into 2022,” according to the West Seattle Blog. The city’s police department has already lost 109 officers in just the first half of this year; 125 was projected for the entire year. While “defund the police” was supposed to save city government money, so far Seattle and likely many other cities are experiencing higher costs. “Halfway through the year, SPD had spent two-thirds of the year’s budget for separation pay,” noted the report.
Crime Rates Soar During Police Exodus
Defunding the police certainly doesn’t seem to be helping the wave of lawbreaking sweeping the country. Violent crimes — such as rape, homicide, robbery, and assault — are still climbing, especially in major cities that might see their statistics zoom past last year’s.
First half of 2022 violent crime numbers:
- Washington, DC: 12% increase (25.8% from this time last year)
- Los Angeles, CA: 8.6% increase
- Philadelphia, PA: 7% increase
- Baltimore, OH: 6.1% increase
- Atlanta, GA: 5.5% increase
Some reports indicate homicides are slightly lower so far this year, but that depends on where you look. In Milwaukee, WI, murder rates increased by 39%, Raleigh has 38%, and Pittsburgh with 25% just in homicides.
Citizens have noticed a delay in response time, sometimes several minutes’ worth. In some instances, residents have complained that local police departments do not have the resources (meaning officers) to respond to what they determine as minor calls. Auto theft, burglaries, and stolen property don’t always bring an officer to the scene anymore.
And let’s face it, the pay isn’t that great in many areas. As Alcazar said, New York cops “are underpaid” and “overworked.” He added, “For the average police officer and NYPD are used to handling maybe eight to 10 jobs during their to [sic] work. I heard they’re having like 30 to 40 jobs.”
The police exodus shouldn’t be surprising. How big of a paycheck is enough to risk your life while being defunded, disrespected by communities that you serve, and not protected by those in power?