Police departments across the nation are struggling to recruit and retain their ranks in an era where “defund the police” rhetoric and Black Lives Matter messaging dominate the headlines.
Axios consolidated data from across the nation that mirrors problems in Minneapolis after its City Council embraced attempts to create a “transformative new model” of law enforcement.
“We have to find a way to hold police departments accountable, to hold them to a high standard of integrity and professionalism without demeaning them and without going to war with words,” Mike Campagna, a retired officer from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in North Carolina, told Axios on Wednesday.
“Too many people have thrown the police under the bus,” said Paul Gazelka, Minnesota’s Senate majority leader. “The police in Minnesota, many are very demoralized because of the lack of appreciation for the work that they do.”
The demoralization surged after the May 2020 death of George Floyd while in police custody; city officials called for dismantling the police department until crime spiked.
“What I am sort of flabbergasted by is … colleagues who a very short time ago who were calling for abolition, who are now suggesting that we should be putting more funding and resources into MPD,” Minneapolis City Council member Phillipe Cunningham said in September 2020 of vacillating messaging. “We know that this is not producing different outcomes.”
Axios’ statistics show the similar effects that extended Black Live Matter protests and “defund the police” rhetoric appears to have had in North Carolina, Arkansas and Iowa.
Key takeaways include:
- Charlotte applications are “down 26% during the first four months of 2021 compared to the same period last year.”
- Des Moines received “about 300 applicants last month … roughly 50% fewer than a year ago.”
- Northwest Arkansas: “One recent group who passed initial testing for the Fayetteville Police Department had only 10 applicants qualify for interviews compared to what is typically about 40.”
- Minneapolis: 105 officers exited the force — “twice as many as normal.”
The COVID-19 pandemic also exacerbated the problem as ensuing budget cuts left Denver with “97 fewer officers than expected in 2020,” Axios reported.
Mr. Campagna left the nation with a warning.
“When you begin appealing only to people who need a job or people who are only looking for money, you’re seeking the wrong people,” he said.