The Philadelphia Police Department is struggling to hire new recruits for the force as it is facing a severe understaffing problem and rising crime rates.
6ABC reported dozens of new recruits report for training every three months, but the last class graduated in December and the next class is not slated to start until May. Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 President John McNesby told 6ABC it has been a perfect storm of circumstances that have led to the current shortage, with many officers taking early retirement and few training classes because of COVID-19.
“And you got to remember that once you go into the academy, it takes you about 10 months to finish. So, we’re not looking at putting any boots on the ground until maybe next Spring,” McNesby said.
There is also a new policy that requires all applicants to be living in Philadelphia before they start at the police academy.
“Nobody is going to move to Philadelphia hoping that they get a job. They want to make sure they secure employment, then move in,” McNesby explained.
All of this has led prospective recruits to seek law enforcement jobs outside the city. This comes at a time when police morale is low nationwide amid incidents that have lead to riots. In addition to experiencing rioting shortly after George Floyd’s murder, Philadelphia experienced another wave of rioting after an officer shot a black man who charged at him with a knife. Despite the body camera video showing the officer acted in self-defense, rioting and looting struck the city for two days.
The Los Angeles Police Department also has fewer officers than what it is budgeted for, again because of early retirements and resignations. Its budget was also cut last year, but Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) just proposed a 3 percent increase in funding for the upcoming fiscal year, owing in part due to the city’s rise in crime.
Portland, which experienced almost nightly riots last year, saw many of its police officers leave the force, citing lack of support from the city, being overworked, and having better opportunities elsewhere. All of this is occurring while certain crime rates have reached new highs.