Cops and civilians alike, take just a moment to read this brief study conducted by the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. A summary of the study and the accompanying data is also attached, it’ll only take you a minute to recognize the disparity that I want to bring to your attention.
Between 1997 and 2016 there was a 21% increase in the population of the United States. Of course, these are only the citizens and immigrants that could be counted, only God knows what the real number may be. During that same time frame there were an additional 52,000 law enforcement officers added to department rolls nationwide. Wow! 52,000 new cops hired to protect the streets, businesses, homes and back roads where us Americans live and work. That number sounds pretty good, that is until you calculate that there was only a 11% increase in the number of new law enforcement officers hired as compared to an increase of 21% in the general population. So, to break that down even further, in 1997 there were 2.42 cops per 1,000 citizens (per capita) versus only 2.17 cops per 1,000 citizens in 2016. That doesn’t sound like too big of a decrease in officers until you’re the one on the victim end of a 911 call and all units in your area are busy handling other calls. Using the data contained in this study we can plainly see that we have approximately 323 million people in the United States being served by just over 701,000 general purpose law enforcement officers. Federal Agents and other specialty law enforcement agencies such as tribal police, those with limited powers and jurisdiction, etc. were not included in this study. From that 701,000 officers we must deduct the number of Chiefs, Sheriffs, Highway Patrol Colonels and other sworn but administrative or supervisory staff who are not patrolling an assigned area or responding to emergency or non-emergency calls for service on a daily basis. Now we are down to less than 701,000 which actually brings down the officer per capita ratio even further. Another factor that must be taken into account is the inability of most agencies to attract quality candidates. Increasing scrutiny of law enforcement officers, low pay, administrators who don’t support their troops and the ever increasing level of danger it’s really hard to find the types of men and women that are well suited to be a cop. It’s just not a job that anyone can or wants to do.
A direct result of this phenomenon is the increased response time for emergency and non-emergency calls for service. Most officers, deputies and troopers spend their time going from call to call. Factor in the time spent on calls, time completing reports and paperwork, transporting prisoners and court attendance on duty and you have less officers that are in service and available to be dispatched. My point is, all of this results in less time for proactive patrol and interaction with the community. Without the ability to perform these two functions, an agency’s capability to reduce crime is greatly reduced. Firstly, it is our goal to prevent crime, our second choice would be to intervene before a crime is committed or during the commission of a crime. Lastly, we as law enforcement officers want to respond to crime after the fact. After the fact means we have a victim and often they are victims of violent crime; rapes, assaults, robberies, murders. A seemingly petty crime such as the theft of a lawn mower can also be devastating, especially if the owner can’t afford to buy another or used it to make their living.
An alarming reality is that most governing bodies; city councils, county commissions and state legislatures only consider law enforcement to be a necessary evil and only provide level funding from year to year in their budgets. As law enforcement officers we generally only deal with two types of people, bad people and good people who are having a bad day. America’s police agencies are at a critical stage in the funding of and the recruitment and retention of law enforcement personnel. Our citizens deserve the best protection we can give them.
With the reduced number of on duty officers who are available to respond to calls and provide proactive patrol services there is another trend developing. An increasing number of businesses, industries, organizations and individuals are hiring off duty cops to serve their need for safety and security. FirstGuard LLC is a premier provider of off duty services nationwide. Depending on your needs, we can contract local off duty officers to provide a uniformed or plainclothes presence to deter crime and protect your employees, customers, assets, products or property. FirstGuard LLC is your one stop solution when a higher level of security that can only be provided by a sworn law enforcement officer is needed. We have access to thousands of officers across the United States to serve you, your company or organization. Unlike unarmed security guards, these officers have the authority to intervene, make arrests and even use force if needed. When you need the very best protection call FirstGuard.