Police Officer Responses To “Cops Quitting Are The Unqualified Taking Their Place?” The following article has been written by Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. It includes editorial content which is the opinion of the writer.
“The way police are depicted in the media is disgusting.”
“As a patrol supervisor, I can say from experience that we are hurting ourselves by lowering standards.”
“Recent research finds that increased police staffing helps to prevent crime, primarily through deterrence, in medium and large cities.”
Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr.
Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of directing award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Former Adjunct Associate Professor of criminology and public affairs-University of Maryland, University College. Former advisor to presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Former advisor to the “McGruff-Take a Bite Out of Crime” national media campaign. Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. Former police officer. Aspiring drummer.
Author of ”Success With The Media: Everything You Need To Survive Reporters and Your Organization” available at Amazon and additional booksellers.
There were hundreds of responses and comments from cops and others to a recent article. Their feedback is below.
I recently wrote, “Cops Are Quitting-Are The Unqualified Taking Their Place?” It was a companion article to, Will National Crime Rise Because Of Memphis Police Reactions?
Both articles focused on the five African American police officers initially charged with the homicide of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, TN, also African American, and the aftermath via media articles and public opinion.
It’s my contention that after Nichols’s death, the national media discussion focused on “all” cops via questions and charges implicating all in American law enforcement as brutal or uncaring. I contend that the stereotyping of over a million police employees (based on the actions of a few) embraces the same philosophical underpinnings as racism or sexism. If you’re capable of one, you are adept at other forms of discrimination.
The corollary observation was data indicating that thousands of police officers are leaving the profession principally because of the negative media and the mistaken sense that Americans have turned their backs on the profession.
Media Mistrust-Associated Press
Half of Americans in a recent survey indicated they believe national news organizations intend to mislead, misinform or persuade the public to adopt a particular point of view through their reporting.
The survey, released Wednesday by Gallup and the Knight Foundation, goes beyond others that have shown a low level of trust in the media to the startling point where many believe there is an intent to deceive.
After the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, media accounts left out data from the US Department of Justice and numerous polls. USDOJ research was supportive of law enforcement operations regarding the use of force or the threat of force (two-three percent out of 54 million yearly contacts) and many other factors. Polling numbers are mostly supportive of law enforcement regardless of demographics.
If the post-Tyre Nichols media coverage excluded the best available law enforcement data, you could assume that the bulk of reporting was either biased or blatantly unfair.
The first article asked if urban crime would increase because of the lack of qualified police officers.
Respondents mostly said yes.
The second asks if we are replacing police officers who leave with the unqualified or the underqualified. Are we seeing the very essence of the veteran police officer who is skilled in de-escalation and proper conduct and proactive policing disappearing? If so, what does that mean for the future of policing? What does it mean for our cities? Answers from readers are below.
The Response From Law Enforcement Officers To “Cops Are Quitting-Are The Unqualified Taking Their Place?“
The response from law enforcement officers and others to the article was immense. Some are below. I also post to non-law enforcement sites. There were hundreds of likes or other responses beyond comments.
I deleted simplistic answers blaming political parties. I did not delete responses that were politically or racially or ethnically insensitive because there were none. I mention this because national publications in the past accused the profession of discriminatory or insensitive comments via social media.
Police jargon was rewritten or clarified. Grammatical errors were corrected (social media responses are often written in haste).
How cops perceived the article may be an indication of the validity of my opinions that we are replacing quitting officers with the unqualified.
Per the Associated Press after the Tyre Nichols homicide, “They would allow just pretty much anybody to be a police officer because they just want these numbers,” said Alvin Davis, a former lieutenant in charge of recruiting (editor’s note-for the Memphis police) before he retired last year out of frustration. “They’re not ready for it.”
LinkedIn Police Respondents (edited for brevity)
The way police are depicted in the media is disgusting. I never thought I would live in a world where it is abhorrent to judge people based on their race, religion, or gender (as it should be); but totally ok – and can be argued ‘encouraged’ in some circles – to judge someone based on their profession.
Police officers are underpaid, disrespected, and overworked. The good ones can get honest work elsewhere, work that has far less baggage and aggravation attached. Those who choose to stay are either truly dedicated, thoroughly mediocre, or completely incompetent. No different than in teaching, and in the military!
As a patrol supervisor, I can say from experience that we are hurting ourselves by lowering standards. We are not doing the public any favors by putting less qualified people in this profession, but unfortunately, that’s what we keep doing. In my opinion, I think it’s better we cut services and tell the public there are certain types of calls that we will not respond to anymore, in order to cut the workload on an already overloaded force than to hire someone not fit for the job just to check the box of “adequate staffing.” An unqualified person in the job will do more damage in the long run, than not responding to a certain call for service anymore. However, the elected won’t cut services because that’s not popular or it’s not electable. Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t easy. Too many responsibilities have been saddled onto a profession that wasn’t originally designed for such responsibilities. You can either be great at a few things or mediocre at everything.
Incompetent leadership + flaming media sensationalism + low standards of training + catering to criminals = cops fleeing. They will be replaced by individuals who have little to no work/life experience and some drug use and background issues will be allowed to slip through the cracks. Doesn’t look good for the blue.
You are absolutely correct in both statements. I’ve been a law enforcement officer for over 20 years and I’ve definitely seen an uptick in excessive and unjustified use of force. Maybe it’s the exact reason this article was written. No one wants to be an officer anymore. I’ve advised my kids I would not want them to become police officers because the risk is too high. We’re losing really good officers at an alarming rate and departments have had to lower their standards and accept recruits who wouldn’t get hired otherwise. That leads to more corruption, and harder-to-train individuals joining our ranks. I’ll say not all of them but definitely more than what we had before. One of the problems is the good officers never get acknowledged for the sacrifice, long nights, depression, and risk we deal with on a daily basis. If you can show me a person who sees dead bodies, domestic violence, abused elderly and children, is shot at and has to find and arrest dangerous suspects, AND not be affected I’ll show you a person who shouldn’t be wearing a badge. What’s happening right now with the ACAB crowd and the total hatred for all cops is really not helping out. But you’re absolutely right, this is a public safety issue.
Yes. I think this article hits many valid points. First and foremost, when we mess up, we definitely need to be held accountable. Bad actions can’t be tolerated. With that being said, people who have never worked in the profession are extremely ignorant of protocols and proper use of force, or the science and studies that go into why we do what we do. The ignorance of the uninformed citizen needs to be combated with correct information but the media doesn’t take the time to read or understand that and furthermore explain it so the public can understand it. For example, unarmed does not necessarily mean “not dangerous.” That’s a false association that the media has created in modern society. A 6’4” 280-pound man may be “unarmed” but if the officer responding is 5’2” and 120 pounds, that “unarmed” man is still very dangerous to that officer without a weapon. Differences and physical capabilities are very much real. Everyone may be created equal under the law but they are not created equal physically. Their body can be the weapon, especially if they have martial arts training or combat experience.
I think that all of the anti-police/defund police movement is geared specifically to demoralize the industry to the point that Washington politicians step in with yet another unconstitutional entity, a national police force which is of course headed by Washington DC.
Can’t prove it but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
While I agree it’s important to do all to keep experienced personnel in any environment, especially policing, one must also realize the seasoned officer was at one point inexperienced. We’ve all worked with officers that went on to other careers for different reasons. It happens. Let them. Some did some soul-searching and realized the streets were not for them. All officers must keep reading, studying, and sharpening their skills to know the law, and the 4th & 5th amendments like the back of their hands, to immediately know what to do without question AND stay out of trouble. Follow the rule of law, and due process, and remain up to date with case law. Treat all with respect while protecting victims, enforcing the law, and making lawful arrests. Integrity, knowledge, and professionalism at all times are paramount to having a successful career as an LEO.
Not unqualified as much as inexperienced. Which in many cases is worse. You take away people like me who retired early, with over twenty years of unblemished service. You cannot replace that with new recruits. Sergeants with under five years of experience replacing ten or fifteen? It is time to circle the wagons, stop the political interference and get back to Policing. That means KEEPING the experience and ensuring that they want to stay.
Public servants are like anyone else, there’s a point at which they’re no longer willing to put up with it.
I’m going to try, respectfully, to meet the author in the middle between street experience and an academic argument. In the process, I hope to ride my hobby horse less and stick to the point more. Most police departments do at least a passable job preparing the young men and women they hire to be cops. Among the skills they teach (and the experience recruits quickly accumulate) is the ability to see through the half-truths and outright lies they hear on the street. Then, the administration expects those same officers to set that skill aside when they walk through the doors at headquarters. In this information age, how long does it take before the average officer suspects that he or she will be hung out to dry by their command staff if they are unlucky enough to make the wrong mistake involving the wrong citizen, staff’s protestations to the contrary notwithstanding?
Lord help us all.
Potentially good candidates don’t want to be part of a profession that is riddled with people you can’t trust. The pay sucks for a profession where you put your life on the line, jeopardize your family relationships and if you are dealing with stress and anxiety there is judgment and criticism. Why would a college educated kid want to work for an uneducated supervisor? You don’t train to protect yourself, you are trained to protect your boss’s job. Why are more cops being killed today- poor training. Why are more cops killing themselves than the bad guys- poor support. Hell, a McDonalds franchise manager makes more than a street cop. Just no longer worth it. Find a job where you can make more money, and spend more time with your family, and your life expectancy is increased.
Who wants high-risk, low-paying, variable shifts including mandatory working holidays and weekends job that is becoming more and more disrespected? The applications must be inundated. How is this for a motto: give a lot and get little in return?
Well yeah. You blame ALL of them for the wrongdoings of the minority who commit misdeeds. I’d walk away too.
Reddit Police Respondents (edited for brevity)
Unequivocally yes. Absolutely. The hiring standards are so low, it should come as no surprise that CA is planning to allow people who are in the country illegally to become certified LEO’s.
Absolutely. I can say from first-hand experience qualified officers are leaving the profession for better paying jobs. If the standard was raised and the compensation was raised to match it, we wouldn’t be dealing with Deputy Doofy’s across the country.
My God the entire reason I switched departments…worked in the big city then my safety came into question due to an inability to police. Now hired in a small department so now I pretty much only have to worry about the call and myself. Nothing feels worse than worrying about an extra gun potentially falling into the wrong hands.
If new officers are taking their place, then yeah it’ll take time for them to make mistakes and learn to respond like veteran officers. Better than nobody taking their place. I wouldn’t say “unqualified,” because they’re still trained (if not better than before) but maybe less experienced yes.
No one cares …… yet. We have to hit rock bottom before we can move on and up. We are nowhere near that point yet.
Have been a dispatcher for 20 years. Can confirm.
Yes, next question.
Some of the new hires I’ve seen in the last few years are beyond unqualified but a danger to themselves and others at best.
There was a vocal group of cops who championed the idea of doing as little in their jobs as humanly possible, by making their calls only, doing nothing proactive and making the focus of their career not getting in trouble. Every time an officer would get jacked up nationally over being proactive they would come forth and cackle their religion of inaction as being the best decision. I’ve always thought of policing as the trouble business, we manage conflict rather than avoid it, and that is our job. To me, if you want to avoid conflict, then you need to be in another line of work. I can’t imagine starting out with guys who just do the bare minimum and avoid trouble. They make it more dangerous for everyone. (Editors note, rewritten because of a de-facto identification).
This is an alarm bell I have been ringing since the post-Floyd mass exodus from LE became apparent. Good article.
Yup and the more moronic cops they hire to fill the vacancies only accelerate the recent cops quitting.
Not really. More like no one is taking their place. Most departments haven’t actually lowered their standards, they just have way fewer applying who exceed those standards and are desirable candidates to hire
Facebook Police Respondents (edited for brevity)
Totally right up the center, where has professional news reporting gone? What’s now replaced the veteran reporters, are people out to get sensational raves. Not the full story that tells truth, but just the blood and guts part when a violator of our laws is getting the worst. The soul that is enforcing the law is a human being as well as this soul that has violated laws that are passed by our great legislators. May God have Mercy on us all!!
You’re about to get what you deserve.
Humanity is doomed.
The B.S. was why I got out of law enforcement.
Thank God I got to my retirement 10 years ago. I couldn’t police in today’s society.
Do you blame them?
Crime in America Police Respondents (edited for brevity)
Spot on. I also think there is an unbalanced level of training and what is taught in our academies and FTO programs. And we must not forget the leadership or lack of in many areas of this profession. Teaching the use of force has become too academic and almost too difficult to train. Again, I’ve said this many times all police encounters use force. For years we sold the idea that all use of force starts with police presence, and I strongly agree with this as it implies that we are society’s use of force. Officers must think that way and understand that their actions or inactions develop the force based on the subject’s behavior. I know this idea skews the use of force by police, but I believe in our favor. Many officers think that force starts only when they have to take physical action. That is the wrong mindset. If you know that force starts with contact, you can begin to understand how force can be de-escalated or escalated. Thanks for the article, sir.
One article I got today (I’ll try to find it and send it) says some “study” indicates the increase in the cost of a newly added cop to the force does not justify the resulting reduction in crime. That’s kind of an interesting way to look at it. Maybe to be free of crime we might expect cops to work for free now????
There are numerous examples of data indicating that we are losing tens of thousands of police officers from The Bureau Of Labor Statistics and additional sources. The California data below is used for context, an additional example, and a summation of the issues discussed.
As California, and the nation, have experienced troubling increases in homicides and aggravated assaults, the state’s residents’ confidence in police in their community doing an excellent or good job in controlling crime has declined notably. These worrisome trends may partly be related to decreases in police staffing, as research has found that these decreases are linked to increases in crime, especially violent crime. The state saw a sizeable drop in staffing across all law enforcement agencies between 2020 and 2021—and this decline is part of much longer-term trends.
Recent research finds that increased police staffing helps to prevent crime, primarily through deterrence, in medium and large cities. This effect is particularly strong for violent crime, especially homicides; an increase in police staffing by 10% is estimated to reduce violent crimes broadly by 3.4% and homicides by 6.7%. Property crime, broadly speaking, reduces by 1.7%. Additionally, this research also shows that the crime-reducing benefits of hiring an additional police officer exceed the annual cost.
In total, the state lost 2,100 sworn law enforcement officers in 2021; almost 1,400 were patrol officers.
While these numbers as percentages are arguably small (around 2.6% and 2% respectively), they are part of a longer term decline.
More recently, in 2021 the rate dropped to 197 sworn officers per 100,000 residents, the lowest reported since 1995.
Public Policy Institute Of California (edited for brevity)
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