The increasingly anti-cop climate throughout the nation has raised concerns that police recruitment could suffer, but so far in some major cities it actually may be bringing in more applications.
In the wake of the July 7 assassination of five police officers in Dallas, Police Chief David Brown called for protesters to apply to his department to “be part of the solution.” Applications have skyrocketed. Departments in Denver, Las Vegas and other major metropolitan areas have seen more modest increases in applications, and one former Los Angeles police officer hoped it is a sign Americans are answering an urgent call. Other departments too have clocked growth despite intense police backlash over recent years.
“It could turn out to be similar to what occurred after 911, where numbers increased,” retired LAPD Detective Supervisor Sal LaBarbera told FoxNews.com.
Orange County, Calif., Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Mark Stichter said the department is seeing a spike in applications. “Law enforcement draws a certain type of person,” Stichter said. “When horrible events like cops being shot occur, there are people who want to be a part of working at trying to solve the problem.”
Black Lives Matter protests against cops have intensified this year. The Dallas murders, as well as the assassinations of three Baton Rouge, La., cops on July 16, has driven home that police are not only unpopular, they are at grave risk.
Regardless of the spike of applications, whether the applicants will go on to don blue uniforms is yet to be known.
Other law enforcement officers and experts say Dallas and other departments seeing a spike are the exception that proves the rule, and predict a nationwide police shortage is inevitable.
“The job is inherently dangerous and that is generally understood and accepted,” said Matthew Thomas, special operations commander for the Pinal County, Ariz., Sheriff’s Office. “However, the general social acceptance of hate and violence toward any and all law enforcement recently has created such an unpredictable and uncontrollable threat to our lives, many feel it is not a good career to be involved in.”
This year, cop deaths are up more than 50 percent, and the victims in Dallas, Baton Rouge and other cases were targeted for assassination rather than being killed in action.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the number of officers fatally shot is already up 56 percent compared with last year. One person who is all too familiar with race-related riots and police problems is Tom Jackson, former police chief in Ferguson, Mo where Michael Brown was killed two years ago.
“The shooting of cops is going to hurt recruitment badly,” said Jackson. “How can you convince people to come to the profession, or stay in the profession, when hundreds of people are in front of them threatening to rape their grandkids? Now officers’ spouses and children are seeing cops going down and they are begging their loved ones to get out of the force or not sign up as planned.” Jackson retired in March 2015.
According to Jackson, his former department is still rocked by the heavy riots and remains 17 officers short – dropping from a full strength of 55 in his time to 38 now. “They’re overworked and it is even less safe for them now,” he said.
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