The failed national experiment to defund the police has brought with it an uptick in crime and a drop in police presence. Many officials belatedly realized that caving to the liberal cries for social justice by doing away with law enforcement wasn’t exactly the right way to go and have been struggling to build back their departments. But that initial decision to acquiesce has cost cities and citizens dearly as two years later, some areas are seeing the lowest number of officers in decades, with little hope of obtaining sustainable staff in the near future.
Los Angeles, CA, has a city-wide population of 3.8 million and only one police officer for every 420 residents, The Center Square reported. The number of officers is lower than it’s been since the 1990s with less than 9,000 cops. To make matters worse, the most recent academy class only has 29 recruits, and it will still be some time before they will be “street ready.”
It’s not just the decision to defund departments that has cities struggling to hire police officers, however. As former LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva pointed out, a lot of the issue has to do with official and public opinion of law enforcement. “Since the summer of 2020, many city leaders have spent their time bashing police and telling them they can’t be trusted,” he told NBC News. “With that very hostile work environment, you’re not going to attract talent to the organization you’re busy assaulting.”
As of July 30, there were only 8,967 police officers out of the 9,500 goal, despite incentives and pay raises. “They’re leaving to either go work in a different agency or just to leave the profession completely,” Tom Saggau, spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Protective League told Fox News Digital. “Los Angeles costs a lot to afford a home, pay rent, commute times; but also, some of the anti-police rhetoric wears on you.” Besides the high cost of living in LA, Saggau explained wait times to respond to crimes makes it even more dangerous:
“We have a difficulty because we’re pulling officers from specialized gang assignments and high-crime areas and drug operations because you’ve got to fill patrol to be able to respond to those 911 calls, so this lack of officers has a trickle-down effect, and it’s a city-wide impact. So, what happens is, victims of crime and businesses that maybe have been broken into and things of that nature, it just takes much, much longer for them to seek justice.”
Police Shortages Across the Nation
LA isn’t the only city suffering a loss of officers. The Police Executive Research Forum of 182 law enforcement agencies released a survey on April 1 that showed there were 47% more resignations in 2022 than in 2019 and 19% more retirements. New Orleans’ force has shrunk so much it faces a possible $38 million in fines over the next 15 years because of a state law that protects pension funds. According to The Sun Times:
“The New Orleans Police Department had so many departures in 2021 and 2022 that the Municipal Police Employee Retirement System considers the department partially dissolved. This triggered the state law, which in effect makes the city pay for the lost pension contributions of the departed officers.”
So far, the city paid $50,314 in July and is scheduled to owe $214,000 per month until the $38 million is paid unless The Big Easy can reach its normal staff of 1,119 participants in the fund. According to a March article in NPR, there are 900 officers in a 1,600-officer police department.
In Minneapolis, 273 police left their jobs between 2020 and 2022. “During that same … time period, the city hired 117 new officers, which equates to a net loss of 156 officers and an average net loss of 52 officers over the last three years,” reported KSTP. “If that trend were to continue, MPD would [soon] have fewer than 400 sworn officers.”
Seattle, WA, home of the “Summer of Love,” is still suffering from a depleted law enforcement presence. Since the Emerald City decided to defund its police force, 509 officers have left, according to My Northwest. “As a result, the department is now left with under 1,000 deployable officers, the lowest staffing seen in 30 years.”
There were only 966 deployable officers as of December 31, 2022, the local outlet explained, compared to 1,215 in 2020. Last year, Seattle “saw 57 homicides, up from 42 in 2020 and 52 in 2020 (which was a 26-year-high).” Mayor Bruce Harrell set a goal to reach 1,400 police officers by 2027, but My Northwest argued that target was not possible because the council “again quietly defunded the police department, permanently cutting 80 police officer positions.” Seattle Police Officers Guild President Officer Mike Solan explained on the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH:
“The big picture is quite clear that we can’t recruit enough people to be cops in this city, mostly because of the political climate we still find ourselves in. And as I look at this in a broad perspective, in terms of the budget, I’m seeing more activist moves to take the money away from police and put it to projects that fulfill an activist talking point. For me, we need cops, and we need people that want to be cops. And we need to be given the confidence to go forth and conduct policing to hold criminals accountable. Because we’re seeing the decay of the city.”
To fill the gaps, some cities are looking at recruiting citizens to take over police roles. The union for Los Angeles Police proposed civilians should respond to certain nonviolent crimes such as loud parties, NPR pointed out. Last year, uBaltimore Police planned to hire citizens as investigators, but training has not yet started. In Illinois, House and Senate legislators passed a bill that would allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to apply to become police officers, as Liberty Nation National Correspondent Sarah Cowgill reported.
The bottom line is fewer people are interested in becoming police officers today due to a hostile working environment, public disregard, pay, and attitude toward the profession for such a dangerous job. “Media coverage has led many young people to view police differently than their parent’s generation may have,” International Association of Chiefs of Police President John Letteney told ABC News. “And a lot of officers think their job has gotten more difficult since high profile use of force incidents.”
As crime continues to increase across the entire nation, it is not only the belabored police officers who are feeling the brunt of a policy experiment that has gone so spectacularly wrong.
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