1 year ago

SEPT 2022. Blues Vol 38 No. 9

FEATURES 42 When the Time Comes, Will You be Ready? 44 After Uvalde, How Much Training is Enough? 48 Why Solo-Officer Active Shooter Response Should be Trained 52 Will You Take the Pledge? 56 Products to Make Your School Safer 58 The Evolution of Police Cars DEPARTMENTS 6 Publisher’s Thoughts 8 Editor’s Thoughts 12 Guest Commentary - Bill King 16 News Around the US 38 Breaking News 70 Calendar of Events 74 Remembering Our Fallen Heroes 90 War Stories 94 Aftermath 100 Open Road 104 Healing Our Heroes 106 Daryl’s Deliberations 108 Light Bulb Award 110 Running 4 Heroes 112 Blue Mental Health with Dr. Tina Jaeckle 114 Off Duty with Rusty Barron 116 Ads Back in the Day 120 Parting Shots 122 Buyers Guide 142 Now Hiring - L.E.O. Positions Open in Texas 184 Back Page


AROUND THE COUNTRY PHILLY PD SHORT 1,300 COPS & IT’S ABOUT TO GET WORSE More than 800 officers and civilian employees have set retirement dates within the next four years. By Anna Orso and Ryan W. Briggs, The Philadelphia Inquirer PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Police Department has faced a critical shortage of officers for months — one that’s all but certain to get worse as hundreds more cops plan to leave. With the police force already operating about 20% below its target staffing level, more than 800 officers and civilian employees have set retirement dates within the next four years by enrolling in the city’s deferred pension program. The decades-old program helps officials prepare for the departure of longtime employees by allowing city workers to begin collecting on pension benefits four years before they retire. Fresh pension records analyzed by The Inquirer show the number of Police Department enrollees doubled in four years. The figures mean officers are leaving faster than the department can recruit them. The force is virtually guaranteed to see about 200 retirements for each of the next four years. But this year, just 120 cadets will be eligible to graduate from the police academy. The wave of impending retirements comes atop nearly 600 existing officer vacancies, soaring resignations, and hundreds of injury claims that have taken more cops off active duty. All told, the force is already some 1,300 officers short of its full complement of 6,380. The growing officer shortage within one of the nation’s largest police forces is colliding with the highest rates of gun violence Philadelphia has seen in generations. Last year, there were 562 homicides, the most in recorded history — and so far, this year, the pace has not slowed. Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw invoked the staffing crisis following a West Philadelphia shooting that on Tuesday night left five young men wounded and 100 shell casings outside a recreation center. Outlaw said adequate staffing allows police to have a more “visible presence.” “We will never, ever be able to truly quantify how much violence would never occur,” she said, “if prospective offenders see police in the area before they act.” The officer exodus coincided with both a political shift around policing and a broader trend of municipal workers leaving their jobs in droves. Outlaw has said for months that morale among officers is low, which she has attributed in part to politics and increased scrutiny. Ranks have dwindled in almost every unit, and the effects are noticeable. Police response times have slowed since 2020. Some officers were redeployed to boost patrol strength. Officials admit recruitment has faltered, blaming both the city’s uniquely stringent hiring requirements and a nationwide shortage that has made the market for recruits more competitive. They emphasize that the problem isn’t unique to Philadelphia. Police departments across the country have faced severe challenges recruiting officers, with some offering massive signing bonuses or retention pay. “It’s been very difficult across the country to have people wanting to get into policing and law enforcement,” Mayor Jim Kenney said during a recent news conference. “I can’t force people to become police officers.” A DEPARTMENT HEMORRHAG- ING COPS While agencies across city government have buckled under persistent short staffing over the last year, police in Philadelphia are leaving more quickly than other municipal workers. They also make up a disproportionate number of expected retirees, according to city employment records. As of July, 809 Police Department employees were enrolled in the city’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan, known as DROP. While uniformed police and civilian staff account for about a quarter of the city workforce, they make up more than 40% of the workers enrolled in DROP. The full number of department retirees in the coming years will likely be even higher, because not all Police Department retirees enroll in DROP — over the past three years, more than a third did not. In all, the department is likely to see more than double the 100 annual retirements averaged before the pandemic. In addition to those retiring, some officers will inevitably quit. And resignations similarly surged last year: According to the department, 128 officers quit in 2021, more than twice the year prior. While resignations across the municipal government as a whole slowed this year, the same cannot be said for the Police Department. Eighty-seven officers have already resigned this year, meaning the department is on track for more resignations than 2021. Atop it all, injury claims are keeping hundreds of paid officers out of work — a trend driven, in part, by some exploiting disability programs. Today, about 580 police officers report being too injured to work, and another 110 are on “limited duty.” Aaron Chalfin, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Pennsylvania, said shortages have a real effect on crime. He said research shows lower police staffing is linked to increases in both violent and property crime. Experts believe that’s because when more officers are in an area, they’re making more arrests, and their mere presence deters crime. “It doesn’t mean every city and every year there will be an impact,” Chalfin said. “But at a 30,000-foot view of it, murder is responsive to the number of police officers. Overall violent crime is responsive. Property crime is responsive.” Others see the shortage as an opportunity to fill the void with support systems outside law enforcement to curb those same problems. The city’s police budget grew by about million this year, with some money earmarked for recruitment. But Kris Henderson, executive director of the Amistad Law Project, advocated for using 34 The BLUES The BLUES 35

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