(NewsNation) —Police departments and unions nationwide have spent the better part of the last two years sounding alarm bells about the exodus of officers from the profession, and the strain that’s putting on those who remain.
Departments in New York, Portland, Chicago, Oakland, Seattle and San Diego, among others, have publicly spoken about the severe challenges officer shortages have brought to their departments.
Last year, 240 officers left the San Diego Police Department, leaving them with 1,800 employed officers, 300 short of their target. Crime in the city has since risen 13%.
“High priority calls like burglaries in progress, gunshots being fired, felony crimes in progress, violent crimes in progress, those can have a 34-minute response time for priority calls, which means we’re really not getting there in time to effect change,” said Sgt. Jared Wilson, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association.
Chicago’s Police Department lost 900 officers over the same period of time, though a recent academy graduation added 247 to the force.
NYPD recently decided to allow an extra minute for candidates to complete their physical fitness test, in hopes it can attract more officers.
Officer retirements increased 45% nationwide and resignations went up 20% in 2020. Those numbers have thus far failed to fully recover.
Smaller departments, too, are facing the crunch of staffing shortages. In April, the Raleigh Police Department had 168 officer vacancies it was attempting to fill. Nearby Durham was reporting 102 vacancies.
Departments have tried offering higher salaries to new officers to attract them to the profession. In Washington, D.C., new officers are being paid more than $80,000 a year and in Portland, a $25,000 signing bonus is being offered to new recruits.