Police retirements are on the rise
Police retirements continued to trend upward in 2021 as hundreds of vacancies persist in the department.
Driving the news: Retirements were up more than 11% last year compared to 2020, according to the city.
- Of the 166 police retirees last year, 57 retired outright and 109 entered the city’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP), which puts them on track to retire in four years.
- At least 21 officers have already entered DROP this year.
The big picture: Police departments across the country have been struggling to attract recruits years after the racial justice protests against police brutality and systemic racism in 2020.
- Driving the recruitment crisis is a series of issues, including the public image of law enforcement and the hiring process itself, according to a 2019 survey from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
By the numbers: Police retirements in Philadelphia have been on the rise for years.
- 2017: 90 — 16 retirements; 74 entered DROP.
- 2018: 105 — 18; 87.
- 2019: 119 — 40; 79.
- 2020: 149 — 32; 117.
What they're saying: Police Sergeant. Eric Gripp tells Axios the department "continually evaluates deployment and assignments to address vacancies generated by retirements."
- Hurdles for potential recruits include physical fitness and reading comprehension tests, plus a relatively new residency requirement for rookie cops, officials have said.
- "We're doing what we can to not only rebrand ourselves but to reach people where they are," Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a news conference late last year.
- John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, did not return requests for comment.
Zoom in: The police department has hundreds of vacancies, and 15% of its force is not available for patrol, according to the department.
- The current size of the force is 5,910 officers, but the department is budgeted for 6,380 spots.
- A total of 890 officers are not available, of which 580 are listed as "no duty" and 106 for "limited duty," Gripp says.
- The department also is dealing with officers who are potentially abusing a state disability benefit around workplace injuries, which Outlaw has vowed to investigate.
What's next: A class of 41 recruits is expected to graduate from the academy in April, which hasn't happened since late 2020 due to concerns around the pandemic.
- Another ongoing class of 82 recruits is expected to graduate in September.
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