by Elizabeth Faddis
Following the death of George Floyd last May, police departments across the state of Minnesota saw a drastic rise in retirements and departures, in addition to experiencing low recruitment numbers.
Two months after the death of Floyd, in which former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, 200 police officers out of the roughly 850 officers serving in the Minneapolis Police Department filed paperwork to leave their jobs with the department.
Prior to this it was reported 65 officers had already left their jobs, a rise from the usual 45 departures a year.
Along with a rise in retirements and departures, around 150 Minneapolis police officers, roughly 20% of the police force, filed disability claims. The officers claimed to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“While law enforcement is a high-stress career, the last two months in Minneapolis have pushed many officers to their breaking point,” explained Ron Meuser, Jr. from the law firm Meuser, Yackley and Rowland.
Due to a shortage of police officers following the 200 departures, the Minneapolis City Council approved a request for $6.4 million to be used to hire new recruits, after previously cutting $8 million from the police budget.
Additionally, Floyd’s death reportedly sparked a “25-year low,” for police recruits in Minnesota, with departments such as the Shakopee Police Department losing potential recruits due to low morale.
“Police work is essential work, service-driven, and my fear is that the current environment is just so toxic that those quality, idealistic, service-driven people that we desperately need to fill these vacancy roles in law enforcement are going to look elsewhere,” explained Jeff Tate, the chief of the Shakopee Police Department.
The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, a nonprofit organization, which represents law enforcement officers throughout the state, founded a program called, “Wear the Badge.” The program seeks to hire new recruits for positions and highlight the work done by the men and women serving in law enforcement.
Mike Tusken, the Police Chief for the Duluth Police Department predicted that roughly one-fifth of his 158 officers would be replaced within the next three years due to a rise in retirements.
“We are about to lose hundreds of years of experience. That’s scary. But at the same time, it’s an opportunity for people to come in with new ideas and perspectives that haven’t been institutionalized in the police culture,” Tusken explained.
On April 20, Chauvin was found guilty on charges relating to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd.
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Elizabeth Faddis is a contributor to The Center Square.