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U.S. cities are facing a mass exodus of police officers, even as violent crime soars

Standing for Freedom Center Staff /



Amidst growing anti-police sentiment and calls to slash police budgets, officers are turning in their badges at an alarming rate, leaving cities understaffed and crime rates increasing exponentially.


Quick Facts



The anti-police climate created over the last few years reached a boiling point last year. When the D.C. Council unanimously enacted emergency police reform last summer, officers warned of the negative consequences that would ensue. The D.C. Police Union stated,


Many of our members have voiced that that bill eliminates collective bargaining rights for employees, it makes it exceedingly more difficult to charge a suspect with assaulting a police officer, it changes body-worn camera policy in such a way that it can no longer be used as an evidence collection tool, and it changes the language in use of force policy in the most utterly confusing way that even the Councilmembers could not figure out the intent or the impact of the language.”


More than 70 percent of officers polled at the time said that they were considering leaving the force. Moreover, 96 percent of officers believed crime would increase, 88 percent believed the safety of officers would decrease, and 98.7 percent agreed that the “DC Council has abandoned the police.”


Some of the bill’s key provisions include releasing the names of officers and body camera footage within 72 hours, handing over the disciplinary process to the mayor, and prohibiting munitions during peaceful demonstrations.


The union warned, “The outcome of the current language in the Bill will undoubtedly result in an exponential increase in crime and a mass exodus in personnel.”


In a disconcerting report recently released, the D.C. Police Union announced that its ignored prediction has come to fruition as the department has lost 313 officers in the last year. Of those 313, 49 percent have resigned or “turned in their badge and walked away.” The union said that most of the officers who have left cited the City Council’s bill and claimed that it endangers both themselves personally and their families. The officers also feel they have lost the support of the City Council.


Homicides have increased drastically in various parts of the Capital City, including a 300 percent increase in Wards 2 and 3 and an 80 percent increase in Ward 8.


However, the disturbing trend is not isolated to D.C. The Seattle Police Department reported that officers are leaving at a “record pace,” with staffing levels dropping by 249 people in the last year, or 20 percent of the total force.


Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan said, “Morale is not good, and that’s because we don’t have the political support from our elected officials. And as we’re seeing officers flee this area, it’s a direct result of that lack of political support.”


According to Solan, 66 officers have left so far this year. He added that although hundreds of officers were injured during the Seattle riots last year, elected officials blamed them as the “instigators.”


“I think that the overall anti-police sentiment has really accelerated the separation aspirations by police officers in this city,” he continued.


According to a statement put out by Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office, the legislature’s proposed budget cuts are playing a key role.  


“Community safety means that we have officers able to respond to 911 calls with more civilian responses, more crisis responses, and more alternatives. Based on exit interviews, we know the Council’s threats of continued layoffs or cuts are having a direct impact on decisions to leave the department. Mayor Durkan continues to caution City Council against making additional one-time cuts without addressing hiring and retention of officers, especially diverse officers, to respond to the highest priority calls.”


The drop in police numbers may have contributed to the 61 percent increase in murders in Seattle last year.


Louisville, Kentucky, is also facing a severe decrease in available officers. In 2020, 188 officers left the force, and the trend has continued as another 43 have left this year. Louisville police union press secretary Dave Mutchler said. “I would say that we’re in dire straits. Our manpower is critically low.”


Mutchler added, “The climate we currently find ourselves in” has impacted recruiting. “The pool of people wanting to become officers is shrinking every day.”


The diminishing police numbers has led to more violent crime in Louisville as well. “We can’t emphasize enough how critically and dangerously low our manpower is, and interestingly enough, those who would break the law are paying attention to that,” Mutchler warned. “Our homicide rates and our violent crime rates are through the roof.”


Louisville has seen an 84 percent increase in nonfatal shootings this year and there was a 75 percent increase in murders in 2020.


Meanwhile the Biden administration is investigating the Louisville police department’s practices after the shooting of Breonna Taylor last year.


Other cities, including Portland, Roanoke, and Baltimore, are facing shortages of officers due to budget cuts and/or a high number of officers choosing to leave the force.


There has also been a 75 percent increase in New York Police Department (NYPD) officers retiring or leaving, according to Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant and an adjunct professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who noted, “Cops are forming a conga line down at the pension section, and I don’t blame them.”



This trend should be of the utmost concern to every American. The villainization of police, the unwillingness of elected officials to protect police, and left-wing calls to defund police have led to many officers saying, “Enough is enough,” and moving on. What was already a difficult and dangerous occupation has become even more stressful and dangerous. Who can blame officers for leaving the force when they aren’t allowed to do their jobs without mobs calling for their heads and politicians throwing them under the bus?


Anyone with just a little common sense and insight into human nature could have predicted this would lead to an increase in violent crime — and quite quickly it’s done just that. Statistics such as those noted above are appalling and are, unfortunately, a harbinger of worse things to come if behavior towards police does not improve. Citizens in many metropolitan areas should be prepared to defend themselves, because when trouble comes, there may be no one to call for help.