The plummeting recruitment numbers and rise in resignations that Madison Police Department and forces around the country are reporting correlate with an ongoing war on cops.
Data from police show applications totaled 888 in 2014, and have been falling every year since.
The low unemployment numbers mentioned in Chris Rickert’s Dec. 7 article, "Chief cites ‘climate’ for drop in recruits," may be a contributing factor, but considering that policing is more of a calling than a career, it’s an insignificant one. Moreover, qualified officers not of retirement age are also leaving -- it’s not just baby boomers.
More likely, hostility directed toward cops is propelling the recruitment crisis. The hostility largely started during the Ferguson, Missouri, uprising and has since grown. It’s not just the overt attacks, such as police ambushes in Dallas and New York, that give recruits pause, either.
Acts perpetrated here and across the country chip away at morale. These include ongoing rallies and protests likening cops to Nazis and racists, legislation aimed at limiting law enforcement’s ability to do its job safely, incessant social media attacks and hindsight analyses of decisions cops had a millisecond to make, wrongful prosecutions of cops, holding cops accountable for punitive damages even if not criminally culpable, and lack of support from politicians.
Until attitudes change and cops are no longer treated as societal pariahs, this trend will likely continue.
Paula Fitzsimmons, Madison