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More Police Officers Quitting Amid Budget Cuts, Stress

Across the U.S. police chiefs say they are struggling to keep departments fully staffed as resignations increase and hiring gets tougher in a tight labor market. At the same time, officers describe the job as more stressful and less rewarding than it was in the past. As a result, chiefs say, departments are taking longer to respond to some calls while some crime categories, including homicide, are on the rise nationwide, reports the Wall Street Journal. A survey of nearly 200 police departments last year by the Police Executive Research Forum found that the resignation rate per 100 officers was up eighteen percent between April 2020 and March 2021 compared with the previous year, while the rate of retirements rose forty five percent. The average annual pay for police officers was $70,000 in 2020, compared with $56,000 for all workers. Some officers say they soured on the job after some police budgets were cut in the midst of “defund the police” movements that were supported by Black Lives Matter protesters. Others said that after high-profile deaths of Black men at the hands of police in recent years, interactions with community members became more confrontational. John LaValley, a former police officer in Green Bay, Wi., said he was regularly called a Nazi and white supremacist while on patrol and eventually became suicidal. He quit in 2017 and worked for a time as a freight conductor for a railroad. “I just lost the mental capacity, not only to handle and mitigate the violence that you see, but this perception of constant negativity,” he said.