Updated Apr 15, 2022 - News

Philly police get first recruits in more than a year

Illustration of a spotlight shaped like a police badge.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The Philadelphia Police Department has a new batch of recruits for the first time in 16 months.

Why it matters: With hundreds of vacancies to fill, the department has been struggling to attract and retain officers.

State of play: Philadelphia is budgeted for a force of 6,380 officers, but has 5,910 officers as of February. Nearly 900 officers are currently unavailable for duty.

Driving the news: A total of 41 recruits graduated from Philadelphia's police academy last week.

  • The last class to complete the roughly 30 weeks of training was back in December 2020.
  • Pandemic-related issues prevented the academy from taking and training recruits.

By the numbers: White recruits (13 men, six women) make up the largest racial demographic of the graduating class, according to the city. Other recruits are:

  • African American: 11 men, two women.
  • Latino: Six men, one woman.
  • Asian: Two men.

Between the lines: The city recently waived its requirement that new police and correctional officers live in Philadelphia for one year prior to their appointment.

  • It was one of the few police reforms Philly put in place following protests against the police killing of George Floyd in 2020.

Of note: The waiver has no end date, but the policy will be regularly reviewed, according to the city.

  • Recruits must live in the city within six months of hire, which was the previous practice.

What they're saying: Mayor Jim Kenney requested the waiver to allow law enforcement to "broaden the potential pool of applicants," said administration spokesperson Kevin Lessard.

John McNesby, president of the police union, hopes it'll will help recruitment during the city's "uptick in violence."

  • "We need to do everything in our power to recruit the best and brightest to serve in our police department, whether they live in or outside of our great city," he said.

What's next: Another class of recruits is expected to graduate from the academy in September.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that white police recruits make up the largest racial demographic of the graduating class, not the majority.

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