Philadelphia Struggling to Recruit New Police Officers

Philadelphia Struggling to Recruit New Police Officers Philadelphia Struggling to Recruit New Police Officers A Philadelphia Police on November 6, 2020 in Philadelphia. (Bryan R. Smith / AFP via Getty Images)

By Jim Thomas | Thursday, 22 April 2021 04:37 PM

In Philadelphia, police are having trouble finding new recruits to join the force because of a dramatic rise in the number of Philadelphia police officers filing for retirement, a diminishing pool of young people wanting to be a big city cop, and the decision to suspend new officer training because of COVID.

John McNesby, President of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge #5, told ABC6 News that a combination of the coronavirus pandemic putting police training on hold, a decreasing amount of people wanting to become police officers in big cities, and a spike in retirements have all contributed to the problem.

Officer employment numbers are down even though the department is severely understaffed, according to a Thursday report by the Daily Caller.

Philadelphia police officer training normally begins every three months with dozens of new recruits, but the pandemic has this process closed until May, reported the Daily Caller.

The last class of Philadelphia police officers graduated in December of 2020.

“And you got to remember that once you go into the academy, it takes you about 10 months to finish,” McNesby said. “So, we’re not looking at putting any boots on the ground until maybe next Spring.”

Most potential recruits want job security before they move to Philly.

“Nobody is going to move to Philadelphia hoping that they get a job,” he continued, referring to the department’s new residency rules requiring that police trainees must live in the city before beginning police training. “They want to make sure they secure employment, then move in.”

McNewsby told the ABC6 that the Philadelphia Police Department is operating “at dangerously low levels.” He said that they are understaffed by hundreds of officers.

The suburbs, however, are not having that same issue.

Richard Vona, the director of the Bucks County Police Training Center, told ABC6 that the application for spring testing has only been open for a week, but spots are filling quickly. “But I do see a number of officers from some of the bigger cities like New York and Philadelphia.”

In the meantime, Philadelphia is suffering from record crime.

In 2020, the number of homicides reached a 30-year high, the police department’s online database showed according to Philadelphia Tribune. There were 499 homicides in Philadelphia in 2020, a 40% increase from 2019 and the highest number since 1990, when there were 500 killings.