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The Louisville, Kentucky, police union says that the department is in “dire straits” in terms of staffing after 200 officers walked off the job in 2020 and 2021.
Around 190 cops left their positions with the department in 2020, following a police-involved shooting that led to the death of Breonna Taylor. Despite subsequent protests, no officers were charged in Taylor’s death, though the city has now banned so-called “no-knock warrants, “prohibiting police from forcibly entering a home without first announcing themselves even if they have a warrant,” according to Buzzfeed News.
Like other police departments that have suffered amid the uptick in anti-police rhetoric and in the wake of the “Defund the Police” movement, Louisville is struggling to find individuals willing to take on a law enforcement role, according to the department’s police union.
“Nearly 190 cops left the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) in 2020 and 43 have stepped away from the Kentucky city’s agency so far in 2021, either choosing to retire or resign altogether, as law enforcement officials struggle to recruit new members to make up for a deficit in manpower,” according to Fox News.
“I would say that we’re in dire straits,” a union spokesperson told the network.
“Statistics provided by LMPD on Tuesday show the department has hired 26 new members so far this year, while 43 have left. The 1,069-person department falls 255 people short of its ‘authorized strength’ of 1,324 — the number of personnel it is authorized to employ,” Fox News added.
“Our manpower is critically low,” the spokesperson added, noting that anti-police sentiment appears to be a critical element. “One thing we have to consider when we’re talking about recruiting is that in the climate that we currently find ourselves, the pool of people wanting to become officers is shrinking every day.”
In addition to the national scrutiny directed at Louisville’s police over Taylor’s death, the Department of Justice is now preparing to investigate the department’s policing practices to determine whether officers have shown a pattern of violating civil rights.
“We’re obviously losing a lot more officers than we are gaining. And if that continues, at what point can we not operate appropriately?” he said.
The Philadelphia Inquirer noted, earlier this year, that the officer staffing problem is not unique to Louisville.
“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,” the outlet reported. “Nearly 3,700 beat cops have left, a large proportion from the New York Police Department (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.”
Potential executives are also refusing the job, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“There’s a lot of folks that are hesitant when they see chiefs are getting beat up and getting thrown under the bus by their bosses,” the Houston Police Department chief and president of the MCCA Art Acevedo told the WSJ.