After a year of reckoning since the brutal murder of George Floyd low recruitment and increased retirement rates continue to uptick across police departments in the United States.
In May MPR News reported that 105 officers left the Minneapolis Police Department last year, twice as many as normal. But a report by KSMP-TV found that the MPD swore in 632 officers, down 25 percent from 845 in 2020.
A study by the Police Executive Research Forum obtained by the Associated Press shows the rate of retirement rose 45 percent at some law enforcement departments while hiring slowed by 5 percent in comparison to the previous year. 200 law enforcement agencies were surveyed in the study.
In May Axios reported that several major cities saw decreases in recruitment. In Charlotte, applications were down 26 percent during the first four months of 2021, and in Des Moines recruitment is down almost 50 percent.
The downward trend comes amidst calls to defund the police as activists urge local and federal lawmakers to allocate funds to invest in schools, infrastructure, housing, and community wellness centers. Some activists feel community policing could also serve as a better alternative as police departments struggle with recruits who are unable to identify with the very communities they swore to protect and serve. In total, the origins of police departments, founded in the racist and destructive slave patrols, still permeates police culture today.
On Capitol Hill police reform has largely stalled as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has yet to receive a Senate vote. And one central focus of reform leans towards revoking qualified immunity which often allows for the use of excessive and oftentimes, deadly force.
After the uprising in Minneapolis over Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis Department racked up $2.9 million in overtime during the closed watched Derek Chauvin murder trial KMSP-TV reports. City officials are asking for $5 million to help offset the overtime costs.
However, the defund argument for some goes further, and there are those who believe that abolishing law enforcement is the only path to ensure that continued state-sanctioned violence against Black and minority communities comes to a halt.
As summer approaches and states continue to open to full capacity in the middle of a pandemic, Black communities brace for increased interaction with the police in hopes that another watershed moment at the expense of a Black life can be avoided.