Police officers in New York City exited the force in record numbers last year amid a surge in violence and growing anti-police sentiment.
More than 5,300 officers — or roughly 15% of the force — at the New York Police Department either retired or put in their papers to leave in 2020, the New York Post reported after reviewing department data.
In all, 2,600 officers simply left the job, while another 2,746 filed for retirement, bringing the total to a whopping 5,346. That figure marked a 75% increase over the number of officers who left the force during the previous year.
In 2019, the NYPD saw 1,509 uniformed officers leave and 1,544 file for retirement, for a total of 3,053, the report stated.
The trend — spurred on by a rise in anarchist violence alongside nationwide "defund the police" protests following the death of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer last May — is only expected to continue into 2021. The Post noted that as of April 21, 831 NYPD officers have already retired or filed to leave.
Last week, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted by a 12-person jury of murder and manslaughter for his use-of-force actions against Floyd.
"Cops are forming a conga line down at the pension section and I don't blame them," Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said. "NYPD cops are looking for better jobs with other departments or even embarking on new careers."
He told the Post he expects a "long, hot summer ahead," especially after the city council recently voted to end qualified immunity for police officers. The move makes it much easier for cops to be sued and, according to Giacalone, effectively turns "the job [into] … a minefield."
With more violence in the streets, greater police presence is needed to ensure the safety of American communities. However, it's no surprise given the current climate — in which an officer's every move is watched closely for the slightest evidence of bias and in which his or her heat-of-the-moment reactions are heavily scrutinized — that more and more individuals are eyeing different, less risky professions.
It seems the job has become increasingly untenable. According to Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch, that's the goal of New York's Democratic leadership.
"The Mayor and City Council are absolutely trying to abolish the police," Lynch told the Post. "They've kept our pay absurdly low. They've ratcheted up our exposure to lawsuits. They've demonized us at every opportunity. And they've taken away the tools we need to do the job we all signed up for, which is to keep our communities safe."
"City Hall should just admit the truth: police abolition-through-attrition is their goal," he continued. "They won't stop until the job has become completely unbearable, and they're getting closer to that goal with every passing day."