Who wants to be a cop these days? In many US cities, the answer is increasingly "hardly anybody." Officers have been resigning or retiring in droves across the country and police departments are finding it very difficult to recruit replacements, NPR reports. The Police Executive Research Forum think tank says a survey of almost 200 departments this month found a 45% increase in the retirement rate and a jump of almost 20% in resignations in the April 2020-April 2021 period compared to the previous year, meaning police departments are shrinking at the same time violent crime is surging. The New York Times looks at Asheville, NC, which has been hit particularly hard: The liberal city, sometimes called the South's Austin or Portland, has lost more than a third of its 238-strong police force over the last year and recently released a list of crimes officers will no longer respond to.
In the PERF survey, officers said the national conversation over the role of police—and calls to hold them more accountable—was a major reason for resigning. In Asheville, chief David Zack says many officers quit after they were targeted during George Floyd protests and felt the city failed to support them. He says six of the seven officers who investigated domestic violence and sexual assault cases have left. "A lot of our experience is walking out the door," the chief tells the Times. One officer, Lindsay C. Rose, quit months after her legs were scorched by an explosive charge thrown during a June 2020 protest. She says she was spat on and vilified, with members of the city's gay community calling her a "traitor." She worked for a moving company started by another officer who had left—but earlier this year, she agreed to return as a community liaison officer, tasked with making the force more transparent to the public. (Read more police stories.)