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The ‘defunding the police’ movement has created a dangerous ‘ripple effect’ that is being felt in departments large and small, making communities across the United States less safe, law enforcement veterans say ‘order.
The Philadelphia Police Department is currently operating about 20% below its target staffing level. In Portland, Oregon, where hostilities against law enforcement are particularly high, the city’s police department has lost more than 230 sworn officers to retirements or resignations since 2020. In the ‘Indiana, the Noblesville Police Department, which has about 100 officers, is seeing fewer and fewer requests, according to local media.
Law enforcement veterans who spoke to Fox News Digital said the staffing shortage has led to officer burnout and morale is at an all-time low.
“I speak to law enforcement officials on a daily basis. And in today’s world, their No. 1 problem is personnel,” retired Forth Worth Chief Constable Jeff Halstead told AFP. FoxNews. “And what you hear is the same drumbeat: how are we going to get through this? And what steps are we going to take to get our staff back?”
But the problem of understaffing goes far beyond the police service. Such shortages have an immediate impact on a police service’s ability to serve communities. With dispersed agents, residents can expect longer response times. And in some cities, a stolen car or burglary can take days for an officer to get to the scene. In other cases, some departments simply stopped taking certain reports.
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“The national goal for your priority call and highest level policing was to respond and be on the scene within five minutes. That was a national goal. It has been the national goal for years. decades. And the majority of big-city police departments were hitting that between three and a half and about four minutes and 45 seconds,” Halstead said. “Today, I don’t know of any of them that aggressively adhere to that national standard.”
Jeff Rasche, a retired police chief with nearly four decades of Indiana experience, told Fox News Digital that staffing shortages are creating more overtime that takes away much-needed training.
“With public safety and law enforcement, you can’t just turn off the lights and go home,” Rasche said. “So what happens is you have to be creative and find different ways to provide the services you need. And yes, things [are] very delayed during this particular time, especially.”
As a result, Rasche said, officers don’t have enough time to train or recharge — two very important things to better serve their communities.
“Your officers can’t take the time to get the training they need to get and have time off,” Rasche said. “They need to recharge to come back in order to be 100% when they put that badge back on their chest and come back to work.”
Rasche said these issues will require police chiefs to “be that cheerleader and watch over their officers to make sure the department is running smoothly.”
“There is a ripple effect that is currently very dangerous,” he said.
There’s a ripple effect that right now is really dangerous
Halstead, who has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, said police department morale was the lowest he had ever seen in the profession. The causes, he said, boil down to two main reasons: they feel their profession has been demonized and they fear criminal charges.
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On that last point, Halstead noted, some officers have been charged with crimes when they handled a call for duty in exactly the way they were trained to do.
“Because of the specific optics of the use of force incident…they are now being charged. So many of the police, especially in your high-risk, high-crime law enforcement units, are no longer becoming as aggressive as they are. ‘before.” Halstead said. “And that’s one of the main drivers of a massive increase in violent crime.”
Rasche argued that only a silent minority in the country is the source of a negative police narrative and therefore the police “don’t want to show up in a courtroom to be charged and (have) the rest of their lives crushed by something that they really did nothing wrong.”
He added that many community leaders are implementing sweeping measures that are at odds with what citizens actually want.
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“It’s blatant today in these communities where they’re trying to do things that have never been done before and obviously don’t work,” Rasche said. “And I think you’re starting to see the audience step in and say, ‘Look, we’re not going to put up with this anymore. We’re not going to … live in a crime-ridden community. We are going to support the police. We want the police to be funded, and we’re going to be there for the police to support them because we need them.