Ask any police department recruiter across the country about efforts to attract new officers and you will likely get a similar answer — fewer people are willing to wear the uniform, fewer see a future in policing, fewer want to risk their futures on a profession where you face public disdain, media attacks, and the increased potential for financial wreckage from unwarranted charges.
Frankly, can we blame them?
A Seattle police recruiter told ABC News, “You can get shot at for $40,000 or be home with your family for $60,000.” In Chicago, a police recruitment fair held in January drew fewer than ten people. The city is racing toward 600 homicides and has over 3300 shot so far this year while the police and detective ranks are massively understaffed. This past spring, Dallas police cancelled two police academy classes due to lack of interest. A spokesman for the International Association of Chiefs of Police says the number of candidates applying for jobs in the rural south is down as much as 80 percent.
The Los Angeles Police Department loses five officers a day to retirement and in Baltimore, where police are routinely harassed and vilified by anti-cop activists, 400 of 500 eligible officers have taken early retirement.
The Washington Post recently featured a story examining how the nation’s capital is struggling to recruit qualified candidates to patrol DC’s increasingly violent streets. The Post noted how police work has, “lost some luster” and cited declining recruitment rates of 26 percent in 2014 from the year before and dipped an additional 28 percent in 2015.
False narratives created and perpetuated by the Black Lives Matter movement and embraced by the mainstream media are clearly a root cause for much of the civil unrest directed at our police today.
Noted criminologist and law enforcement expert Ron Martinelli describes how BLM didn’t spontaneously rise from some pop social media movement. BLM, according to Martinelli, is “a large, organized, well-planned and funded political action group with international outreach extending to Cuba, Northern Ireland, Europe, and the Middle East.”
“The BLM is an organization reborn from the Vietnam war era, with a political ideology steeped in Marxism and Black Nationalism. Literally all of the heroes of the BLM founders are former convicted cop-killer Black Nationalist revolutionaries from the old Black Panther, Black Liberation Army and Weather Underground organizations,” Martinelli writes.
Who can forget the protest in St. Paul, Minn. where BLM “activists” chanted, "Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon!" Celebrity entertainers Jay Z and Beyoncé lavish praise on BLM and celebrate their dangerous cause. BLM also receives massive funding from liberal financier George Soros.
Anti-police activity and rhetoric produces deadly consequences with ambush attacks on our police increasing in frequency. Within days of a December 2014 New York City march where the chant was, “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Now!” a Baltimore thug gunned down two Brooklyn officers parked in a patrol car.
In September, a Philadelphia man shot 18 times into the patrol car assigned to 19 year veteran, Sgt. Sylvia Young. Miraculously, the officer survived. Police later found a note from the shooter stating how he hated cops and parole officers. The Philadelphia attack followed ambush-style shootings in July that claimed the lives of five police officers in Dallas and three officers in Baton Rouge.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and noted author Heather MacDonald say it plainly, “War has been declared on the American police officer.”
Can anyone be surprised to learn how our nation’s youth are turning away from police work, opting for better paying and safer jobs in technology or manufacturing? While some may want to enter public service, they’re rightfully asking, “at what cost?”
As we witness the final stretch of this presidential election and listen to candidate debates, speeches, and political ads, one can only hope for a revival of civility and return to much-needed respect for police and first responders.
Vilifying police — especially when the facts around many of these incendiary shooting incidents are largely ignored — will only generate additional mistrust and further erode police ranks at a time when more cops are badly needed. On our current course, growing numbers of law-abiding citizens will fall victim to the violence and brutality of criminals who grow more and more emboldened.
Candidates seeking public office should courageously and forcefully repudiate the hateful rhetoric of the BLM movement and their surrogates and offer substantive ways to invest in our police and rebuild trust with the communities they serve.
Without it, militant cop-haters will grow stronger and will eventually make civil unrest and violence our new normal.
Hosko is a former assistant director of the FBI and now president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund. Founded in 1995, LELDF protects law enforcement professionals by fighting for their legal rights.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.