Help wanted: Police officers. Must be willing to fight crime, handle crises and solve community problems. And oh yeah, you might get shot, be sued or have water dumped on you in the line of duty.
Interest in law-enforcement careers has dropped nationwide over the past several years, two recent studies report.
A survey released in July by the Center for State & Local Government Excellence found that policing was the hardest job to fill, with 32% of respondents listing it as a problem. That’s more than double the response from 2015, when 15% reported trouble hiring police.
Last year the U.S. Department of Justice reported that the number of full-time sworn officers per 100,000 population in the United States dropped by 11% since 1997, to 2.17 per 100,000 in 2016 from 2.42 per 100,000 in 1997. There were 701,169 sworn officers in 2016, down 3% from 724,690 in 2013.
The studies did not identify reasons for the decline. But some have suggested the increasing stress of the job, combined with heightened animosity toward police nationally, spread by social media and sensationalized coverage of police shootings, are driving away potential applicants.