Following the “defund the police” movement and the “abolish the police” movement, constant negative coverage of law enforcement by the media, anti-police sentiment becoming mainstream, and the threat of riots have contributed to a police shortage across the country.
The Philadelphia Police Department currently has 268 vacancies and is expecting even more shortages in the near future.
“From Jan. 1 through Thursday, 79 Philadelphia officers have been accepted into the city’s Deferred Retirement Option Program, meaning they intend to retire within four years, according to Mayor Jim Kenney’s office,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. “During the same time period last year, just 13 officers had been accepted into the program, the office said.”
“It’s the perfect storm. We are anticipating that the department is going to be understaffed by several hundred members, because hundreds of guys are either retiring or taking other jobs and leaving the department,” Mike Neilon, spokesperson for the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, told the newspaper.
Neighboring New Jersey is facing a “recruiting crisis,” according to Pat Colligan, president of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association.
Colligan said that recent notorious police-involved deaths of citizens such as George Floyd, Tamir Rice, and Breonna Taylor have impacted recruiting efforts.
“Every action has a reaction. When you vilify every police officer for every bad police officer’s decision, [people] don’t want to take this job anymore,” Colligan, head of New Jersey’s largest police union, said. “It’s been a very trying and difficult time to put on the badge every day.”
Colligan also said the “quality has really diminished in the last few years,” which could mean more tragic police confrontations in the future.
Col. Patrick Callahan, the acting superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said the state’s largest police agency received a “historically low” number of applications this year. In some years, the New Jersey State Police would usually receive between 15,000 to 20,000 applications – this year they only received 2,023 qualified applicants as of Thursday, according to NJ.com.
“The atmosphere with police work right now is people just don’t want to apply,” Robert Fox, president of the New Jersey State Fraternal Order of Police, said.
The Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 said there were “recruitment and retention issues,” which prompted the “topic of closing police district(s).”
“Our Patrol numbers are now below 700 officers which is about 300-400 below what is needed,” the Baltimore FOP said, according to WBFF-TV. “This creates huge safety issues for our officers and for the citizens of Baltimore.”
After facing a police shortage, Albany Police Chief Michael Persley said the department should offer more incentives to attract new recruits.
Officials also said that the pandemic has hurt police recruiting since new officer training was suspended.
“And you got to remember that once you go into the academy, it takes you about 10 months to finish. So, we’re not looking at putting any boots on the ground until maybe next Spring,” Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 President John McNesby told WPVI-TV.