Police departments face a recruiting shortage amid a growing anti-cop mood that some fear has taken the pride out of peacekeeping and put targets on the backs of the men and women in blue.
Open calls for the killing of police have been followed by assassinations, including last week’s murder in Texas of a Harris County sheriff’s deputy. Instead of dialing back the incendiary rhetoric, groups including “Black Lives Matter” have instead doubled down at demonstrations with chants of “Pigs in a blanket, fry em like bacon.” Public safety officials fear the net effect has been to demonize police, and diminish the job.
“It’s a lot harder to sell now,” Jeff Roorda, business manager of the St. Louis Police Officers Association and former state representative, told FoxNews.com. “This is a very real phenomenon.”
Roorda, who spoke in defense of police in the aftermath of the Ferguson shooting, said protesters took to Twitter to promote a #KillRoorda hashtag.
Roorda said the new academy class continues to be delayed and the police force loses about double the amount of officers per year than in the past.
Knowing police face public scorn or career-ending legal battles even if they acted properly has convinced many prospective cops to abandon their dreams of patrolling America’s streets.
“I saw all this anti-cop propaganda and I was like, ‘Who needs this?’” said Antonio, a New Yorker who asked that only his first name be used. The 32-year-old had applied and been accepted into the NYPD academy, but withdrew his candidacy amid the cop-bashing climate sweeping the country.
Recruitment nationally is “way down,” said Jonathan Thompson, executive director of the National Sheriff’s Association. He said some sheriffs around the country say the number of applications has fallen by as much as 50 percent.
“President Obama has breathed life into this ugly movement [Black Lives Matter],” Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke told “Fox & Friends.” “And it is time now for good, law-abiding Americans to rise up. We now have to counter this slime, this filth coming out of these cop haters.”