Colwyn, Pennsylvania, is down to just one police officer per shift. Its acting police chief says that the borough council seems to want his department gone. As many as 14 officers moved to leave the Norman, Oklahoma police force after the city council voted to defund their department. A majority of officers left the force in Knightstown, Indiana, including the chief, because “there is no support for the department, no town council backbone for us,” one former officer said.
These aren’t isolated incidents, but part of a wave that has swept the country following nationwide anti-police protests in recent months. Renewed public hostility to cops appears to have worsened a long decline in their numbers, stretching back to the Great Recession. That’s bad news for both public safety and police-community relations: fewer cops likely means both more crime and more police misconduct.
The attrition is not limited to small towns. A survey of news stories indicates that across America’s 50 largest cities, at least 23 have seen chiefs or line officers resign, retire, or take disability this year. Nearly 3,700 beat cops have left, a large proportion from the NYPD (down 7% of its officers) but with big drops in Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Atlanta, and elsewhere, too. The Major Cities Chiefs Association told the Wall Street Journal that 18 of its 69 member executives had retired, resigned, or been fired over the past year.
This piece was adapted from City Journal