Cops Wanted (Some Risks Involved)

Jack Dunphy24 Apr, 2024 5 Min Read
Car 54 where are you?

Gentle reader, are you looking for a job? Are you interested in one in which you’re regularly exposed to staph infections, lice, scabies, tuberculosis, hepatitis, and every other imaginable parasite and infectious disease as borne by America’s largest population of drug-addicted vagrants?

Would you like to work for a city whose municipal government is rife with socialists, people who would more quickly blame you for their city’s ills than the criminals who prey on their fellow citizens? Are you thrilled at the prospect of a job in which the split-second decisions you make in defending yourself and others from death or serious injury are endlessly scrutinized by people in your chain of command who have spent their careers avoiding situations requiring such decisions?

And finally, are you hoping to work in a city where the district attorney is more eager to imprison you than the criminals you’re expected to confront? If all of that describes you, gentle reader, you’re in luck. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass wants you to know the LAPD is hiring.

Mayor Karen Bass.

Alas for Mayor Bass, the open positions in the LAPD are going begging, with the ten most recent academy classes graduating an average of only 31 recruits, an insufficient number to keep pace with attrition. (For comparison, when I joined the LAPD in the early ‘80s, my class, which was typical of the time, began with about 85 recruits, of whom about 65 graduated, the others having been weeded out by what at the time was a fairly grueling training regimen.)

Los Angeles is not alone in this predicament. A 2023 study by the Police Executive Research Forum showed the problem is felt nationwide. Chicago, for example, is more than 1,600 officers below its staffing level of 2019 as it deals with a robbery epidemic and prepares for this summer’s Democratic National Convention, which has the potential to rival its 1968 predecessor for arousing chaos in the streets.

The dearth of new recruits comes, unsurprisingly, at a time of accelerated attrition, as tenured officers retire earlier than they might once have and as younger officers transfer to departments in less hostile environments or leave law enforcement altogether.

To put it simply, not enough people want to be cops these days, and many who already are wish they weren’t. Consider: As you read this, police officers across the country are on patrol and facing the various hazards to life and limb listed above while knowing that at any moment they may face a wanted suspect willing to violently resist being arrested, perhaps even to the point of killing. These cops know that unless that arrest goes by the book and conforms precisely with every law and policy, no matter how ill-considered, and even with every whimsical preference of those in whose command they serve, they risk being suspended, fired, and even imprisoned.

Get the message?

What’s more, if the racial calculus of a violent encounter is such that it attracts the attention of the professionally and perennially aggrieved, the propriety of that encounter will be judged by a different standard, one that requires a degree of punctiliousness that might occasionally be seen in a television drama but almost never experienced in reality. Witness the recent furor on Chicago, where protesters are calling for the firing and prosecution of the cops who on March 21 shot and killed Dexter Reed, this despite the fact that it was Reed who opened fire first and wounded one of five cops surrounding his car on a traffic stop.

Heather Mac Donald was the first to chronicle the “Ferguson Effect,” which described the general retreat from proactive law enforcement following the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Brown, you’ll recall, had committed a strong-arm robbery and, when confronted by a police officer, was shot while trying to take the officer’s gun. The officer was cleared of wrongdoing in every subsequent investigation, including one by the U.S. Justice Department under the command of then-Attorney General Eric Holder, who, one presumes, would have been more than pleased to find fault. Nevertheless, the officer was hounded from his job and his home as protests, inspired by the mendacious “hands up, don’t shoot” mantra, roiled St. Louis and cities across the country.

The Ferguson effect, as dramatic as it was, was merely a warmup for what followed the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In a travesty of the legal system, the four officers involved in Floyd’s death, including one who never touched him, were summarily fired and later imprisoned, even as there was compelling evidence that Floyd’s death was caused by an overdose of fentanyl in conjunction with his pre-existing medical conditions.

But even if one concedes that the four officers murdered Floyd, should their actions have stained the character of every police officer in America and justified the ensuing national paroxysm of anti-police rhetoric and violence? As George Floyd was hoisted onto the martyr’s pedestal, the message to America’s cops was clear: You could be next.

Being rational creatures, cops responded to these disincentives accordingly, pulling back from the type of proactive police work that discourages violent crime. The result, to the surprise of no sober person, was the biggest jump in homicides in more than a century, with almost 5,000 more homicides recorded nationally in 2020 than in 2019. Of these, almost 3,400 were among blacks, which seems an inordinate price to pay for the secular canonization of George Floyd.

As if to re-emphasize the disincentives to joining any police department, Alameda County, Calif., district attorney Pamela Price has charged three police officers with involuntary manslaughter in a case in which they had been cleared by the previous D.A. Price, one of the crop of George Soros-funded “progressive” prosecutors currently infesting district attorney’s offices across the country, campaigned on a promise to reopen investigations into fatal police encounters closed by her predecessor, with the first being that of Mario Gonzalez.

As was the case with George Floyd, Gonzalez’s autopsy cited multiple factors contributing to his death. “The stress of the altercation and restraint,” wrote the pathologist, “combined with prone positioning in the setting of morbid obesity and recent use of methamphetamine placed further strain on Mr. Gonzalez Arenales’ heart. Therefore, the cause of death is the toxic effects of methamphetamine, with the physiologic stress of altercation and restraint, morbid obesity, and alcoholism contributing to the process of dying.”

The complete bodycam video of Gonzalez’s arrest is available online, and the fair-minded viewer can see the lengths to which the officers tried gain his compliance and avoid injuring him. Perhaps the officers’ jury will be composed of fair-minded people, but in a county that elected Price in the first place, this is far from a certainty.

And not in a good way.

In Los Angeles, District Attorney George Gascón, another Soros beneficiary, is no less eager than Price to burnish his progressive bona fides by prosecuting cops, a fact weighing heavily on current police officers and, one presumes, prospective ones.

So, Mayor Bass, it is far from likely you’ll be able to fill future police academy classes to the level necessary to grow the LAPD or even keep it from shrinking further, a troubling prospect with L.A.’s homicides increasing even as other cities’ are decreasing, and with the Summer Olympics coming to Los Angeles in four years.

It was the so-called progressives who brought about this sad state of affairs, and no shift in course will occur until these same people experience a Road to Damascus epiphany or else are driven from positions of influence. It can’t come too soon.

Jack Dunphy is the pseudonym of a police officer in Southern California. He served with the Los Angeles Police Department for more than 30 years. Now retired from the LAPD, he works for a police department in a neighboring city. Twitter: @OfficerDunphy


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6 comments on “Cops Wanted (Some Risks Involved)”

  1. next door neighbor in Phoenix is a current LAPD detective who works in LA 2 weeks on, lives in PHX the other 2 weeks. Has a clock on his phone's screen counting down the days until he gets his 20 years and retires.

  2. in some cases the police officers are trying to have their cake and eat it too ... yes, they aren't supported by their DA's and the they are second guessed on every decision but as soon as the DA says go hassle or arrest a law abiding citizen they jump too it ... if the next time someone kills a dirtbag in self defense the cops would refuse to arrest them then maybe things would change for the better ...
    They certainly didn't act like they cared during the lockdowns when they happily hassled paddleboarders and joggers for not masking outdoors ...

  3. Having color of authority over citizens brings with it special accountability, or at least it should. The authority to detain, constrain, frisk, and imprison a person, all without being convicted of a crime, carries responsibilities that many cops just don't want to assume. Doing their jobs "by the book" isn't unique to cops, nor are they micromanaged and undermined any worse than many other professions. I see a recurring thread in this writing, in that cops should be given even more latitude than they already have. I am not anti-cop by any means, I am only one that can see with my own eyes the need for reform in hiring, training, psychological evaluation, qualified immunity, union influence, and overall "us versus them" mentality that is rife among police (and sheriff) ranks. There are many noble professions one can enter, yet very few of them allow for the carrying of a firearm and the authority to beat or kill American citizens. Think about it.

  4. My low-crime, pro-police, conservative Tennessee suburb just hired on an officer who spent decades as a NYC cop. A new neighbor a few doors down just took early retirement from a big city California PD and moved to the cultural comfort of suburban Tennessee. Blue cities are really going to miss civil order as their traditional police evacuate to safe harbor in red America.

  5. Add the increased likelihood of incompetence from your diversity-hire partner who is supposed to have your back plus the new reality of open and concealed carry (an understandable reaction to dysfunctional policing) and history becomes tragedy.

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