Burnout and exhaustion are widespread in police departments big and small across the country, as more officers have retired this year due to anti-police protests, budget cuts and the effects of the pandemic.
The Los Angeles Police department was particularly hit hard after budget cuts led to many officers leaving, along with difficulties recruiting and training replacements.
“They’re worn out. They’re frustrated. They’re tired. They’re feeling fatigued, and they’re saying they’re looking for options outside the profession,” Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore told the LA Daily News.
From 2020-2021, the LAPD lost 631 officers – mostly due to retirement – according to the L.A. Police Commission. The year marked an increase in retirements compared to previous years, for which the average rate of officers leaving was 466.
Other departments across the country faced similar issues according to the National Executive Research Forum.
In a survey of around 200 police chiefs, they reported an 18% increase in resignations and a 45% increase in retirements in their respective departments.
One anonymous police chief interviewed for the survey said that officers quit the force altogether. “In 2020 and 2021, most of our officers who left did not leave for another department. They left the profession.”
The New York Police Department was emblematic of the situation, with 1,000 more officers leaving in 2020 compared to the previous year.
Most large departments encountered frequent protests in their cities. In addition, the chiefs cited police reforms as one of the biggest reasons for officers leaving.
The LAPD says that the exodus is reducing the diversity of their department. In addition, budget cuts have impacted hiring and marketing campaigns reaching out to minority groups, according to Elena Asucan, LAPD’s personnel director.
The smallest graduating academy class in LAPD history graduated this year with only 79 new officers. As a result, the percentage of women and minorities has dipped.
“(The declining numbers) warrant taking a look at us internally and introspectively,” said Commander Ruby Flores, LAPD’s first diversity, equity and inclusion officer. “I want to dive deeper to understand why women are leaving, why they only seek certain positions within the department.”
Chief Moore was concerned about the future of the department.
“We need to make sure that we are not discouraging that next generation of cop, and keeping them from leaving this agency because of the animus that is out there. It’s been a tough year emotionally on our people, we know that, on their families – they’re questioning being here, or is this the right agency to continue (in) this profession? … This is absolutely a strategic concern for us,” Moore said.