October 21, 2017

5 U.S. Cities with Serious Police Shortages

5 U.S. Cities with Serious Police Shortages

Should America be worried about the lack of law enforcement officers patrolling the streets? For the past decade, there has been an increasing focus on police shortages and how the job may be losing widespread appeal. In fact, ABC News reports that the number of annual applicants for police academies has dropped more than 50 percent since 1997, with most experts citing low pay, budget cuts, a tarnished public image, and a lack of promotional opportunity as reasons for the shift. With some large cities resorting to private security firms or even citizen’s groups to fight crime, there has never been a better time for people who are passionate about law enforcement to begin their career. As police officers become more in demand, many of the issues with the job are being tackled at a local and federal level. In these five cities, the demand is reaching critical proportions.

1. Chicago, IL

In Chicago, violent crime is resurging, with homicides up 25 percent and shootings up 9 percent. Though Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made significant steps towards hiring more officers since taking office, many lawmakers are demanding this number be raised to 1,000. The city also has over 100 vacant sergeant positions on average, which means experienced officers may have a greater chance of rising through the ranks.

2. Detroit, MI

Because of Detroit’s serious financial struggles, over 200 high-ranking police officers are looking to retire early before the city is forced to cut their pensions. A volunteer group called Citizens of Detroit has sprung up to help out the police force, which has shrunk by 25 percent in the past four years. Armed with only radios and matching t-shirts, they patrol crime-ridden neighborhoods and report suspicious behavior.

3. Oakland, CA

Oakland is the fourth most dangerous city in America, and by some estimates, its police department is understaffed by 1,100 officers. Entire categories of theft and most petty crime often goes without response, and there have been concerns about the rise in crimes that go unreported simply because the victim doesn’t expect action will be taken. Some of the cities wealthier residents in upscale neighborhoods have actually hired private security firms for protection.

4. San Diego, CA

In 2011, crime in San Diego dropped to its lowest level in 42 years, but much like the rest of the country, it’s seeing rates go up again. This comes at a time when nearly one third of the city’s police force is nearing retirement age, and many younger officers are transferring to cities like nearby Los Angeles, where new recruits get bonuses that San Diego can’t afford to give. It costs the city $190,000 to train a police academy recruit for one year, but many of the recent graduates have either opted to take jobs elsewhere or opted out of police work altogether, leaving a huge shortage in their wake.

5. Tulsa, OK

Though Tulsa has been hit by the same problems as most of the nation – a difficulty in keeping new recruits and rising number of retiring officers – it also has a specialized issue. The overcrowded Oklahoma prisons have led to a serious deficit in correctional officers, with some prisons averaging 75 inmates to every one police officer. There are over 500 fewer prison officers employed in Tulsa now than there were 10 years ago, which costs the taxpayers $13 million a year for overtime pay for the sparse staff the prisons can hold onto.

Law enforcement officers are a crucial part of a city’s backbone and it’s hard for citizens and businesses to feel safe without them. Many lawmakers have called for a serious change to how police forces are funded, addressing the need for an increase in incentives and a serious look at a flawed system. It may be the only way to keep the streets of America protected.

Brett Harris is a full-time writer. If you’re interested in being part of your local justice system, check out Top 10 Online Masters in Criminal Justice Degree Programs http://www.criminaljusticedegreehub.com/top-10-online-masters-in-criminal-justice/.

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