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Nearly a third of Asheville, NC, police have left since last summer’s protests: report

Nearly a third of Asheville, N.C., police have left the force since last summer’s racial justice protests in response to the death of George Floyd, according to The New York Times.

A surge of police left the profession last year, but the biggest dip in employment numbers came from North Carolina’s Asheville police force, the Times reported.

Out of its 238-officer police force, Asheville lost 80 of its officers. 

“I’m walking away to exhale and inhale, I’m leaving because I don’t have any more left in me right now,” Asheville Officer Lindsay Rose wrote in an essay after leaving the department in September, according to the Times. “I’m drowning in this politically charged atmosphere of hate and destruction.”

Rose said she had an explosive charge thrown at her during a protest that scorched her legs. She also shared that the gay community in the city, that once took her in when she first moved, stood by her at an event yelling “All gay cops are traitors.”

Asheville is not the only community that saw a large departure of police for departments due to the protests.

Retirements were up 45 percent and resignations were up 18 percent between April 2020 and April 2021, a survey of 200 police departments by the Police Executive Research Forum showed, according to the Times. Many cities are also dealing with a rise in shootings and homicides.

Minneapolis, where the death of George Floyd occurred, is down to 699 officers from 912 officers in May 2019. 

Officers who quit their jobs said they were mocked on social media and told they were only leaving because they couldn’t get away with hurting people of color, the newspaper noted.

During last year’s protests against police brutality, mostly peaceful crowds sometimes turned violent and millions of dollars in damage was caused to some cities.

The Times noted that while protests can be common, the ones sparked by Floyd’s death in Asheville and across the country saw officers facing increasingly hostile environments and threats coupled with existing problems such as low pay, and the lack of training in dealing with problems such as mental health and drug overdoses.

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