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Tuesday, December 7, 2021
FairfaxOpinionEditorial: Can’t recruit cops? Is it any surprise?

Editorial: Can’t recruit cops? Is it any surprise?

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To the surprise of absolutely no one except the purposely obtuse and addle-minded, local law-enforcement agencies across the region say they are having a hard time finding qualified new recruits and keeping new officers on staff.

Well, gee, how could that have happened? Oh, wait: Given that elected officials, prosecutors, the media, a certain percentage of the public and even their own leadership seem hell-bent on vilifying the profession, even the large majority of outstanding officers, it hardly is a surprise.

And is it any surprise, either, that many officers are departing the job the minute their pension kicks in? Why risk your life, livelihood and reputation by hanging around in this troubled era? Sticking it out is noble but, many have come to realize, could end up being foolhardy.

As seen in coverage this week, Vienna officials are the latest to report a denuded police workforce that feels underpaid and underappreciated.

(Nobody’s accusing Vienna leaders of being anti-police, but hopefully this situation is a wake-up call; they should spend some time asking their officers for input on the root causes of the poor morale.)

Bashing cops – figuratively and sometimes literally – is one of the most popular sports in the modern Woke Olympics. And while there is no question that systemic problems (and problem officers) need to be rooted out, the situation seems to have veered out of control.

Those with memories reaching back longer than last week might recall what happens when it gets hard to hire and retain police, because this isn’t the first time it’s happened across the nation. Standards are then lowered, and sometimes it becomes difficult to discern the criminals from those sworn to protect the rest of us.

That happened in the Metropolitan Police Department just across the Potomac River, as just one notably egregious example, and it took years to finally untangle that mess.

What goes around comes around, and eventually we’ll be back to some sane equilibrium – holding officers accountable for impropriety, obviously, but also respecting the fact that most of those serving in public safety are honorable and deserve our support, not our derision.

Good news: Polls suggest the tide already is receding, and the anti-police sentiment is turning off more among the public than it is turning on. Alas, it may take a while for those leading the vilification of public-safety personnel to get the message and pull back on their rhetoric.

And the people who will pay the price in the interim? It’ll be those most at risk in the community, the ones the “woke,” with a straight face, claim to be advocating for.

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