Where Have All the Recruits Gone?

Across this country there is a shortage of law enforcement recruits.  Few departments can find suitable candidates, and even more are in crisis mode which is creating an even greater danger to the line officer who can’t get help.  Massive overtime in many municipalities is causing even more officers to abandon the job.

Why can’t we find people to fill the thin blue line?

Is this a law enforcement problem or a societal problem?

The answer is “yes”.

Attacks – There is a something going on in America that has been brewing for quite some time.  America is more of an idea than a country.  Respect, hard work, rule of law, individual rights, God, liberty and opportunity for anyone living as an American.  Our founders created this idea when we broke the bonds of tyranny with England and they declared our freedom in the Declaration of Independence.  That document did away with class when it proclaimed that “all men are created equal” and declared the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  But this is being attacked by people who do not hold to those values.  Those who hold to leftist ideology are trying to undermine the American ideal.  This term “left” come from the French Revolution which ultimately resulted in using a guillotine to hush anyone who opposed the left’s agenda.  This is where we find ourselves today.  You can’t hold to American values today without fear of the “political guillotine” from groups like “Black Lives Matter”, self-serving politicians, the Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU and many others.

These groups have spread lies about police to render them neutered.  And in many places this agenda is beginning to succeed.  With the attacks, hatred and lies against law enforcement occurring in social media, main stream media and from political hacks, there is little wonder why someone would risk their lives to be vilified and condemned for being blue.

Compensation – Police have historically been underpaid for the risk they take but many good people have been willing to take that risk in service to others.  One of the things that was offered to law enforcement instead of good pay was the promise to care of them in retirement.  Across the country politicians, who have been quick to set up life-long pensions for themselves, have been reneging on these promises for law enforcement.  Officers injured in the line of duty who have lost health coverage and support, officers who have had the pensions reduced and the newest disgrace in Ohio where many retired law enforcement officers have lost their ability to benefit from promised healthcare in retirement.

Leadership – One of the most disturbing but controllable issues that contributes to the desire to serve the public is the lack of leadership in our own ranks.  Uninformed and cowardly leaders in the top ranks who would rather sacrifice their people than to stand up for them.  First the uninformed – these leaders have not bothered to keep up on the realities of police work to know what the effects of human performance are in law enforcement.  They don’t know or understand use of force, have been removed from the road for too many years to see what their people face daily and refuse to educate themselves on the reality of the front-line officers.  When the trials come, they don’t know how to realistically respond to the pressure of the leftists mentioned above and abdicate their responsibility to the people they serve, their own officers.

Second the cowardly – these leaders do not have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the bullies in the media who cry for “social” justice for thugs, murders and bullies who have put themselves into dangerous situations and met the sheepdog who is not going to cower when they pull a gun or fight with those heroes in blue.  When one of our heroes does what he has been trained to do to those who have victimized society and citizens alike, they throw the hero to the curb to save their own worthless image and job.  These leaders don’t deserve to wear the badge of the blue, but they have mostly been appointed by the same gutless type who truly care more about their own fame and fortune than they do truth and justice.

If you can find a knowledgeable leader who has courage and cares for his people, you will see a department that does not have a manpower issue.  Is it any wonder that we have shortages in the ranks?  This is best summed up by a quote from “Braveheart” the movie, “Your title gives you claim to the throne of our country, but men don’t follow titles, they follow courage.”

Religion – Our country was founded to be a country run by religious people.  Many will try to deny this fact, but it is replete in the founding documents and individual writings of the founding fathers.  Without religion, the things that make us great fall apart and we are like every other secular country in the world.  It is religion that has given us the courage and moral backbone to become that shining light and city on a hill that has caused the entire world to rise in prosperity and freedom starting in 1776.  As we become more and more secular those who believed in sacrifice will care less about others than self and that service is the backbone of the blue line warriors put themselves between good and evil.

Emasculation of men – Men have always been in a majority in law enforcement.  I absolutely believe women belong in our ranks, but the fact is men have always been a majority because there is a need to use violence to subdue evil.  But men and masculinity have been under attack in the country for a long time.  Since the early 70’s the left, which involves all of Hollywood, has been doing everything it can to destroy masculinity.  The emasculation of men as fathers and leaders is obvious in sitcoms but it has also been going on in schools and in the left’s agenda.  Recently they have coined the phrase “toxic masculinity” and even Gillette jumped on the band wagon.

Here is where that religion thing comes in, learning good morals restrains violence and calls those who know good from evil to stand up.  No good man will ever agree with the disrespect of our female partners.  Chivalry was and still is the mark of a good man.  Someone who would stand up to bullies even to the point of a good punch in the nose.  The mantra today is all violence is wrong but that is BS.  Men were given the gift of aggression, which is honed as boys, so they could stand up to bullies and protect those weaker than themselves.  This all should have been more obvious years ago as I saw new recruits coming in that had NEVER been in a fight, but I missed the implications.  It is clear to me now that the emasculation of men is leading to less recruits available to fill our ranks, but that same emasculation has led to men who act like little boys because we don’t teach them that their strength was meant to protect the weak not take advantage of it.

I don’t have solutions today just my musings as I watch a noble and honorable profession crumbling.

Be safe.

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Tim Barfield is in his 35th year as a police officer. He started as a police officer in a rural village before transferring to an inner ring suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. He spent 32 years in that department gaining experience in many areas of police work. In 2014, he accepted a position as police chief for another department. He is a husband, father and grandfather who has a love for police work and police officers with a goal of helping them succeed in a great profession. His responsibilities and desires have included patrol, traffic, DARE, SWAT, training and supervision. He is a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. He continues to learn and instruct on subjects with an emphasis on awareness, police survival mindset and ethics.

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