KIMBERLING CITY, MO – The surprising news of a Missouri police chief resigning this week – along with every officer on his force – has opened eyes to the continuing crisis in the United States as the “defund the police” movement has crushed law enforcement morale and has resulted in more officers retiring early or just resigning to seek other employment opportunities.
Kimberling City Police Chief Craig Alexander had originally given his notice in late August to accept a different position elsewhere, but when finally leaving his position, all of his staff – three officers and a sergeant – all left with him, citing low pay and not having the proper support to do their jobs. This has left local officials frantically attempting to re-staff the department with qualified officers.
In the meantime, the Stone County Sheriff’s Office will be forced to take up the slack; in reacting to the resignations, Sheriff Doug Rader noted that most police departments nationwide are currently understaffed, saying “It will be a struggle to fill the police department back up.”
The reason for this issue is the cumulative effects of the anti-police sentiment in the United States that has sprung up throughout the nation following the May 2020 death of George Floyd while in police custody and the protests, riots, and looting that followed in its wake.
Reports indicate that due to efforts to defund and even abolish law enforcement, more and more police departments across the nation are struggling to remain staffed.
According to a recent poll conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), among police there has been a whopping 45 percent increase in retirements and a 20 percent increase in resignations in 2020-2021 when compared to 2019-2020; the main reasons cops are giving up and leaving are low morale and department scrutiny, leaving police departments nationwide struggling to retain officers they have, not to mention attracting new hires.
“We are in uncharted territory right now,” said Chuck Wexler, PERF’s Executive Director. “Policing is being challenged in ways I haven’t seen, ever.”
All these retirements and resignations come at the worst possible time, as many cities throughout the country are seeing startling spikes in shootings and murders, with large cities seeing a 24 percent jump in homicides so far in 2021.
“So at that very moment you’re hoping you can put police out there to try to deal with crime, you’re seeing the workforce shrinking with an unprecedented number of retirements and resignations,” Wexler said.
The rising crime rates, coupled with shrinking police forces, has been forcing some politicians who supported the “defund the police” movement to do a sudden about-face on their stances, including Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan when speaking at a July press conference.
“As a city, we cannot continue on this current trajectory of losing police officers,” she said. “Over the past 17 months, the Seattle Police Department has lost 250 police officers, which is the equivalent of over 300,000 service hours. We’re on path to losing 300 police officers.”