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Hiring of Police Officers Increased in 2023 After Years of Decline

The year 2023 saw an increase in the number of police officers hired for the first time in several years, after widespread anti-police sentiment as a result of the race riots in the summer of 2020.

According to ABC News, more sworn officers were hired in 2023 than in any of the preceding four years. At the same time, fewer officers resigned or retired than in recent previous years. The information comes from 214 different law enforcement agencies responding to a study conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).

Anti-police sentiment saw a sharp increase starting in 2020, after the accidental death of George Floyd, a black man who died of a fentanyl overdose while in police custody in Minneapolis in May of 2020. Black nationalist and Anarcho-Communist activists began a series of riots across the country, falsely blaming his death on “police brutality,” carrying out a campaign that burned hundreds of buildings across the country, killed dozens of civilians, and caused over $2 billion worth of damage. One of the primary goals of the rioters was to “defund the police” in police departments across the country.

In response to the stigma, fueled by the mainstream media, social media, and popular culture, many police officers began resigning or retiring early, with some shifting to private security. At the same time, applications to law enforcement positions declined sharply, as more people became reluctant to join the force at a time when police officers were increasingly under threat of harassment and violence against them simply for being police officers.

“I just think that the past four years have been particularly challenging for American policing,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of PERF. “And our survey shows we’re finally starting to turn a corner.” However, Wexler noted that the rate of increases varies by department, and that the law enforcement profession as a whole “isn’t out of the woods yet.”

According to the survey, small- and medium-sized departments largely wound up with more sworn officers now than they did in January of 2020. However, large departments are generally still at least 5% below their staffing levels compared to January of 2020, despite a year-over-year increase between 2022 and 2023.

Wexler also attributed the shift to a broader political shift that only began in recent years. Democrats and other far-left politicians who once openly demanded that police departments be “defunded” have either reversed course or have simply stopped advocating for such policies, after localities that implemented such efforts all witnessed spikes in the rates of crime and violent crime.

“We went from having public discourse about defunding the police just a few years ago to public officials waking up to the fact their workforce is leaving,” Wexler explained. “I don’t think there’s any question that there has been a sea change among political leaders.”

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

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