The Atlanta police exodus continues apace

AP Photo/Andrea Smith

Hearing stories about police departments across the United States hemorrhaging officers has been all too common over the past couple of years. Originally these depletions were not of the officers’ choosing in many cases, as mayors and city councils bent a knee to the wishes of BLM and the “defund the police” movement and cut their budgets. Additional cuts took place as a result of the pandemic shutdowns, leading to significant municipal revenue losses. But more and more, as time has gone by, urban police forces have been losing officers because they are increasingly taking early retirement or simply quitting their jobs due to the deplorable treatment they’ve received at the hands of woke elected officials. That appears to be the case in Atlanta, Georgia. Officers are hitting the bricks and leaving scathing letters to their superiors, letting them know precisely why they were abandoning their career goals and the jobs that they used to love doing. And as Yahoo News reports this weekend, Atlanta is hardly the only place this is happening.

Like Atlanta, police morale across the country has dropped while retirements and resignations have hit all-time highs. A June survey of nearly 200 departments by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit Washington-based think tank, showed a 45% increase in the retirement rates and an 18% increase in resignations across the board in 2020-2021 compared to the previous year.

“We are in uncharted territory right now,” PERF’s Executive Director Chuck Wexler said. “Policing is being challenged in ways I haven’t seen, ever.”

Not only do police departments face challenges retaining officers, but they have also had a hard time pulling in new recruits.

Atlanta Police Lt. Mark Cooper just left the force after 26 years of service, four years short of his planned retirement. In his resignation letter, he spoke of how he had always been proud to tell people he worked for the Atlanta PD. But now he has watched the leadership of the department and the city throw his fellow officers “under the bus,” when they were following orders from their superiors. He informed them that the direction the leadership has taken is “nothing more than sad.”

Officer Thomas A. Crowder resigned in June. Being a police officer was a childhood dream of his, but now that dream has soured. In his farewell message, he asked why anyone with less than 20 years on the force would stick around. He said his fellow officers “have NO backing from your command staff. It is crazy that they could ask you to stay at work or even leave the precinct knowing that they are not going to have your back and is willing to fire you as soon as a citizen complains.”

These conditions have prompted some people in one upscale Atlanta community called Buckhead to begin a drive to split their community off and form their own city. The main proponent of this movement is Bill White, the CEO of the Buckhead City Committee. He told the Washington Examiner recently that if they can establish their own city, Buckhead will get crime under control and support their police officers because they don’t want them “to be afraid to do their jobs.”

We’re seeing this in far too many places and the results should have been obvious from the beginning. Crime rates are going up as police staffing goes down. As more restrictions are placed on the remaining officers in terms of how they are allowed to engage with suspects, criminals become more brazen. Sadly, that’s just part of human nature, and opportunistic criminals will take advantage of the situation.

People who answer the call to service in law enforcement do so to protect and serve their community. They don’t sign up to be verbally abused and disrespected by their own municipal governments and anti-police activist groups. This wave of departures is a depressing and dangerous trend. I predict that this will only end when enough people in major cities grow fed up with the crime and the danger and begin electing officials who will promise to expand their police departments and start seriously cracking down on the gangs and bad actors. That’s what happened in New York City in the early 90s and it’s starting to happen again this year. It’s a trend that needs to spread to the rest of these cities.