Crime rates across the country have soared following big cities’ calls to defund the police. As a result, smaller cities are having to work overtime to recruit more officers to meet the needs of their community during the crime epidemic.
Roanoke City Police Department, for example, recently approved a budget increase this summer to retain and hire more officers after the city saw a nearly 400% increase in homicides this year, with its eighth murder occurring in July.
“The citizens tell me they want more officers in their community, in their localities,” Roanoke’s Mayor Sherman Lea said in June. “So we are looking at a lot of things.”
Roanoke Chief Howard Hall said that smaller cities are dealing with the aftermath of bigger cities’ decisions to cut police budgets last year following the death of George Floyd.
“This is going on everywhere. It’s going to take a long time to catch up in terms of where we are from a vacancies perspective,” he said.
According to a survey by the Police Executive Research Forum, there has been a 45% increase in retirements and a 20% increase in resignations from 2020-2021.
The calls by major departments in New York, Seattle and Los Angeles to cut budgets have spurred less populated areas to do the opposite.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is also working to fill its ranks after 93 officers left this year. The IMPD was given an additional $7 million to expand its recruiting efforts.
In Texas, police departments are combating a statewide officer shortage after it has become more difficult to sign officers due to stricter regulations.
“The problem has been just getting qualified applicants,” Atascosa County Sheriff David Soward said. “You know, sometimes you can get applicants, but we do a pretty thorough background check, and sometimes applicants don’t make it through the background check. So the quality of applicants has certainly dropped off, as well as the quantity of them.”
According to KSAT, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office is even offering signing bonuses to attract deputies.
“We’re trying to hire, you know, just like every other law enforcement agency in the country right now. Manpower is an issue,” Sheriff Javier Salazar said.
Crime in Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, has worsened this year, with more child abuse and domestic violence cases.
“What we’re seeing now is we are seeing a slight uptick in violent crime. We’re seeing a lot more guns on the street. And so we just ask people to continue to call in activity and let us handle it as needed,” Salazar said.
Meanwhile, in the state of Massachusetts, officer recruitment is down 50% according to Major City Chiefs President Brian Kyes.
“It seems like this is the early phase, and certainly if two years ago was any indication, the numbers are down,” he said.
Even major cities are caving to community pressure and pushing back against the defunding narrative. Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who vocally supported Black Lives Matter, has recently addressed the increase in crime by proposing budget increases and recruiting more officers to the force.
Last year’s budget cuts, which Bowser denounced, have left the department 200 officers short.
In Seattle, liberal Mayor Jenny Durkan is urging for more officers to stop the bleeding. Over the last year, the city has lost 250 police officers, or the equivalent of 300,000 service hours, Durkan said.
Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz echoed Durkan’s sentiment by calling for more support behind law enforcement. “I need more officers…making it clear to officers, current and prospective…that they will have our support, financially and otherwise, to do this job well and know they will not be laid off due to budget cuts.”
The Major Cities Chiefs Association found homicides are up by 30% in the first quarter of 2021 when compared to the same time period last year, with murders notably spiking in the five cities that cut police budgets last year: Austin, New York, Minneapolis, Seattle and Denver.