Having escaped the dangers of a job where they aren’t appreciated and their lives were in danger, why would retired police officers want to return to uniform? It’s not as if things have gotten better for police, especially Los Angeles Police, in the past few years. If it had, government officials wouldn’t want them to return.
Yet, that is just was Los Angeles politicians are doing. The department was understaffed by 277 sworn and civilian officers at the end of 2022. The department also expects 600 police officers to retire next year, and only 158 recruits are expected to go through the academy. The department isn’t getting enough new recruits to fill the growing number of empty positions.
Amid this time of understaffing, the remaining officers are having to deal with increasing crime, especially violent crime. The city had 382 homicides in 2022 and 397 in 2021, both far above the 258 homicides in 2019 before COVID and the 2020 riots.
It is not a good position to be in because it is likely to increase burnout among the remaining officers.
To help minimize the staffing problem, the Los Angeles Police Department was implemented it’s Bounce Program. This allows the LAPD to recall sworn personnel for up to a year. While the police officer earns a salary, his or her pension payments are put on hold. The program was first implemented in 2008.
Not surprisingly, the response rate has been low. “Hardly anybody’s responded or wants to come back,” Tom Saggau, spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Protective League, a union representing LAPD officers, told The Epoch Times.
And why would anyone want to return to the LAPD. The retirees survived, yes, survived their work. Police have increasingly found themselves literal targets for attack and murder since 2020. Rather than help keep them safe, politicians have increasingly tried to micro-manage their activities, which often places the officers in more danger. Even if they aren’t attacked, they face hostility from a public that has been told over and over that the police are the problem.
“The vile hatred of these police abolitionists takes a toll,” Saggau said. “We’ve got a retention problem. We can’t keep people the full length of their career eligibility because they’ve just had it.”
While the city has launched an aggressive recruitment campaign, it is unlikely to help because the left’s “discouragement” campaign has been more effective with more officers leaving than entering the force.
The Bounce Program is an attempt to “plug the leak” until repairs can be made. The problem is those repairs aren’t being made. Liberal prosecutors aren’t prosecuting criminals. Politicians aren’t allowing police to do their jobs, and the public still resents them even as they complain about the rising crime.
You can’t have it both ways. Either support the police and prosecute criminals, or criticize the police and live with a high level of violent crime. Los Angeles, for now, has chosen the latter because they continue to vote for politicians who enact failed policies.
Michael A. Letts is the CEO and Founder of In-VestUSA, a national grassroots non-profit organization helping hundreds of communities provide thousands of bulletproof vests for their police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship, and fundraising programs.