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US Police Hits Recruitment Snag While Young Cops Opt for Humane Policing

July 30, 2020, 01.13 PM

WASHINGTON, – Stephanie Robinson, 23, is a young Black cop in America whose loyalty while on patrol has been questioned after the death of George Floyd.

“They’re saying, ‘Are you going to be Black or be a police?’ And I say, ‘I’m Black and a police officer. I’m going to do both and do it the right way,’” Stephanie said.

The police officer at Detroit’s West Side is firm on her commitment to the US police force. But she is also critical of police training and methods.

"If we could have a better relationship with people, and not be going full force every time and treating people like criminals" it would help, she said.

Growing concern among young officers and cadets about racism and brutality in US law enforcement after Floyd's death is the latest complication for police recruiters already struggling to hire and retain new cops.

Read also: George Floyd Honored in New Project Symbolizing Hope and Change

Drops in the number of recruits and increases in officers heading for retirement are so dramatic that the Police Education Research Foundation (PERF) dubbed it a "workforce crisis."

Job applications have plummeted in many police departments over the past five years, falling 50 percent in Seattle, for example, and 70 percent in Jefferson County, Colorado, a 2019 study by PERF showed.

About 16 percent of the US police force hits retirement age in the next five years, the study found.

As local governments curb police powers, and Congress pushes reform bills, some of the police workforces of the future is also beginning to question how policing is done and their role in it.

This next generation of young cops wants better training; a more transparent, flexible and accountable police presence; and closer ties to the communities they serve.

"We are not waiting two, three, four years for change. We need to change now — right now," said DeCarlos Hines, a forensic psychology major.

He is also the President of the Black Student Union at New York City's John Jay School of Criminal Justice, which is one of the biggest feeders into US law enforcement.

Hiring and keeping Black and other minority officers is one of many challenges facing police recruiters, the PERF report says.

Law enforcement agencies are also increasingly struggling to find recruits who are conversant with technology to fight cybercrimes, such as human trafficking online or internet stalking.


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