Reports: Mass exodus of retiring police officers may lead to a national public safety crisis

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NEW YORK CITY — There are growing concerns that the mass retirements of police officers throughout the country may lead to a national public safety crisis.

Between losing experienced law enforcement personnel and not having enough officers, some are suggesting the mass exodus will compromise people’s safety, especially in major U.S. cities.

For example, the Philadelphia Police Department currently has 268 vacancies and is expecting even more shortages in the near future, according to a report by The Blaze.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported:

“From Jan. 1 through Thursday, 79 Philadelphia officers have been accepted into the city’s Deferred Retirement Option Program, meaning they intend to retire within four years, according to Mayor Jim Kenney’s office.

“During the same time period last year, just 13 officers had been accepted into the program, the office said.”

Nearby in New Jersey, Pat Colligan, president of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, said the densely populated state is facing a “recruiting crisis.”

Colligan told The Blaze:

“Every action has a reaction. When you vilify every police officer for every bad police officer’s decision, [people] don’t want to take this job anymore.

“It’s been a very trying and difficult time to put on the badge every day.”

Col. Patrick Callahan, the acting superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said the state’s largest police agency received a “historically low” number of applications this year.

Usually, New Jersey State Police would receive between 15,000 to 20,000 applications, but this year the agency only received 2,023 qualified applicants as of Thursday, according to NJ.com.

Last year, in New York City, 5,346 police officers either retired or filed for retirement, representing a 75 percent increase from 2019, according to a FOX News report.

In 2019, the number of NYPD officers leaving was much lower — 1,509 uniformed officers left and 1,544 filed for retirement, for a total of 3,053, according to FOX News.

So far this year, 831 officers have already either retired or have filed their paperwork to leave and many more are expected.

NYPD is reportedly now limiting the number of retirement applications each day due to overwhelming demand, according to a FOX Business report.

The departures and planned departures of over 5,300 officers represents about 15 percent of the force and as of April 5, the NYPD headcount of uniformed officers dropped to 34,974 from 36,900 in 2019.

Why are police retiring in droves now, especially in New York City?

There are many reasons, but top factors include exposure to COVID-19; skyrocketing shootings; anti-police sentiment from some politicians and members of the public; riots; and New York City Council’s recent vote to remove the protection of qualified immunity from police officers, but not from politicians.

According to Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a law enforcement job has become “a minefield,” and officers want to escape from it:

“Cops are forming a conga line down at the pension section, and I don’t blame them. NYPD cops are looking for better jobs with other departments or even embarking on new careers.”

In a March 25 press release this year, the City Council explained why it was voting to end qualified immunity:

“The New York City Council will vote today on five bills and three resolutions designed to increase police accountability and reimagine public safety in our city.

“To increase accountability, the Council will vote on a bill that will effectively end qualified immunity as a defense for certain civil rights violations.

“New York courts have created their own version of the federal doctrine of qualified immunity, which shields police officers who are performing discretionary functions from civil liability.

“Together, the State and federal versions of qualified immunity have effectively prevented countless victims of police brutality and their families from obtaining financial damages and holding officers and the cities that employ them accountable.  

“The Council’s legislation would end qualified immunity for police officers in New York City by creating a new local civil right protecting New Yorkers against unreasonable search and seizures and against excessive force and ban the use of qualified immunity, or substantially equivalent immunities, as a defense.”

The Council also noted:

“The Council will vote on a bill that will create a crash investigation and an analysis unit in the Department of Transportation (DOT), which will be responsible for investigating all crashes involving serious injury.

“This bill will center responsibility for traffic safety within the DOT instead of the NYPD.

“To increase transparency, the Council will also vote on legislation that requires NYPD to issue a quarterly report on all traffic and vehicle stops, disaggregating information by precinct, race/ethnicity and age of the driver.

“The report will include information regarding summonses issued, number of arrests made, vehicles searched and if consent was provided.

“The Council will vote on a bill that allows the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) to investigate police with a history of bias and racial profiling complaints.

“In addition, the Council will vote on a proposal that transfers the authority of issuing, suspending and revoking press passes from the NYPD to the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME).”

In addition, the City Council explained the three resolutions it was also voting on:

“The three resolutions being voted on include one that supports a state bill which gives final authority on discipline of officers facing civilian complaints to the CCRB rather than the Police Commissioner.

“Currently, the Police Commissioner has the right to disregard CCRB recommendations and offer a less severe discipline, or no punishment at all.

“A second resolution supports a State bill that requires police officers to live in New York City. Under the legislation, new NYPD officers will have to establish residency in the City.

“A third resolution will adopt a policing reform plan. This plan, which a State Executive Order requires the Council no later than April 1. If the Council does not adopt a plan, the State is authorized to withhold State and federal pass-through funding.”

Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch told The Post:

“The Mayor and City Council are absolutely trying to abolish the police. They’ve kept our pay absurdly low. They’ve ratcheted up our exposure to lawsuits.

“They’ve demonized us at every opportunity. And they’ve taken away the tools we need to do the job we all signed up for, which is to keep our communities safe.

“Now the NYPD is spending money on slick recruiting ads to replace the experienced cops who are leaving in droves.

“City Hall should just admit the truth: police abolition-through-attrition is their goal. They won’t stop until the job has become completely unbearable, and they’re getting closer to that goal with every passing day.”

Former Las Vegas Police Lt. Randy Sutton spoke with Fox News host Harris Faulkner on Monday. Sutton warned that a national public safety crisis is coming as police officers leave the force in record numbers:

“The area I want to talk about right now is the psychological and the emotional injuries that are taking place, because they are part and parcel of why cops are leaving at record levels, and it isn’t just NYPD.

“It is quite literally every major city in the country. And I’ve been, you know, during our discussions previously, Harris, I forecasted a criminal justice crisis and it is barreling towards us.

“A public safety crisis is coming towards us like a freight train. And we are seeing this is just the beginning. I don’t want to sound like, you know, about the sky is falling, but the sky is falling.”


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