The national “war on cops” has produced a “crisis” level shortfall of police officers in Minnesota prompting state leaders to launch a new initiative aimed at combating these alarming trends.
At a Wednesday press conference, the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association (MCPA) announced its new “Wear the Badge” initiative, a PR campaign targeted towards a younger audience of potential recruits.
“While local and national research shows strong support for law enforcement, the policing profession is staring down a hiring crisis,” MCPA Executive Director Andy Skoogman said in a press release. “We live in an economy where jobs are plentiful, salaries in the private sector are often greater than the public sector, scrutiny of police is more intense than ever and technology is rapidly changing the work officers do. We have to reverse this troubling trend.”
According to the MCPA, nearly 66 percent of police departments across the nation are experiencing a drop in job applicants. Additionally, the total number of sworn officers has dropped from 723,000 in 2013 to roughly 701,000 today.
Minnesota in particular is experiencing a drop in the number of candidates taking its peace officer licensing exam, which is down 25 percent from 2015. Similarly, the number of applicants who actually pass the exam has dropped 23 percent since 2015.
“Quite frankly, we are at a point of crisis, in terms of public safety, and men and women joining this very honorable profession,” Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said at Wednesday’s press conference, according to The Star Tribune.
Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, noted that the department regularly had anywhere from 500 and 1,000 applicants taking the entrance exam in the late 1980s, but those “numbers are down to less than 200.”
Monica Rice, a student at Alexandria Technical and Community College who is studying to be an officer, spoke Wednesday and said that a lot of her peers are worried about the “authorized use of force” granted to officers, which they fear could land them “in the media.”
“As chiefs leading rural, urban and suburban departments, we have a common challenge and need to consider different solutions collectively,” MCPA President Dan Hatten said in Wednesday’s press release. “Many smaller, rural agencies are concerned about losing veteran officers to larger departments. Larger agencies are experiencing increased retirements as baby boomers age. We are also struggling to attain gender and racial diversity in our departments.”
MCPA’s new “Wear the Badge” campaign will feature “a series of short, authentic video profiles or mini-documentaries of Minnesota police officers at work,” as well blog posts, podcasts, and career information available on the initiative’s website.
“Technology is not only changing this career, it’s also changing the way people research police work and get their questions answered as they explore career options,” MCPA Vice President Jeff Potts said Wednesday. “Police work still ranks high as an opportunity to serve and make a difference in your local community. The Wear the Badge campaign will hammer home that message and we hope entice more Minnesotans to choose this honorable profession as their career.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Minneapolis Police” by Tony Webster. CC BY 2.0.