Many large, left-leaning, American cities are facing major concerns as their police departments fail to correct understaffing problems that began in the pandemic.
“For me, I wonder, what the profession is going to be 20 years from now if we’re having these challenges on a nationwide scale. Are we going to be able to recruit enough people to serve our cities,” said Portland police chief Chuck Lovell.
According to AP News, Portland tripled its average homicide rate last year with a record high, 89. This year, the progressive city is on pace to beat that record as it has already seen over 50 homicides.
Lovell has seen 237 officers resign or retire since 2020 as the need for officers in Portland has only increased.
This problem has not been contained within the boundaries of the city of Portland.
Gresham, Oregon, a suburb of Portland has seen its police force dwindle to the extent that now eight officers will patrol the entire city, which has a population of 115,000.
Across the country, in Philadelphia understaffing has been just as bad. 550 officers have left the department since the pandemic and another 860 are on leave from the force.
“We’re getting more calls for service and there are fewer people to answer them, this isn’t just an issue in Philadelphia. Departments all over and down and recruitment has been difficult,” said Philadelphia police spokesperson Eric Gripp.
Fox News reported that 3 officers in Chicago committed suicide last month, in what continues to be one of the harshest areas to police.
Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, who is a spokesperson for the National Police Association, offered this explanation of the tolls that understaffing takes on officers,
“When somebody is forced to live on fast food and caffeine, while living in that constant state of what we call ‘hyper-vigilance’, for 12, 13, 14 hours a day, that takes its toll.
You look at those last three officers who committed suicide, these were not veteran officers, these were fairly young people and that’s horrific.”
Los Angeles has lost over 650 officers to retirement and resignation since 2020. The city has lost its animal cruelty unit and has seen its human trafficking, narcotics, and gun departments drastically shrink in recent years.
The city has also downsized its homeless outreach team, which is cause for major concern in a city where homelessness is running rampant.
According to CNN, Dallas’ police department is down 550 officers since 2020, and Atlanta has had to initiate incentives to add officers to its police force to deal with rising crime.
This problem stretches to the Midwest where Kansas City is facing the same crisis.
“The people (who) work here are working long hours, extra overtime to cover other shifts,” Kansas City Police Interim Chief Joseph Maybin said.
“But we have to have someone answering the call. We have to have someone dispatching otherwise we can’t get officers to people. It’s critical.”
This sentiment is shared among other police departments nationwide. Even though they are understaffed and overworked, these officers plan to continue to provide protection to the communities which they serve.