MA, New Orleans face shortage of officers after year of 'defund police' movement

Cherven, a Massachusetts State Police 25-year veteran, told “Fox & Friends” on Thursday that there has been a trend of troopers leaving to become municipal police officers, which he argued is a direct result of the removal of some incentives. Nearly four dozen veteran Massachusetts State Police troopers are being reassigned from specialty units to barracks to help patrol streets amid a staffing shortage, according to a local report.

An internal memo obtained by NBC 10 Boston revealed 46 state troopers will be pulled from their current roles as the department expects to lose between 200 to 250 troopers this year.

Cherven partly blamed the “defund police” movement and anti-police sentiment for the staffing shortage, saying that has been affecting recruitment efforts. 

The officer debate has been at the top of the American conscience since a White, now-former police officer in Minneapolis, Derek Chauvin, knelt on the neck of George Floyd for more than nine minutes in May 2020; Floyd later died.  Chauvin has since been convicted of murder, but Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests and ignited the “defund the police” movement.

On Thursday, Cherven explained the trooper “retention issue” with Massachusetts State Police.  

“What is concerning to me and to members of my association is that we’re losing, for the first time that I can recall, members to other departments,” Cherven told Fox News’ Lawrence Jones

He explained that troopers would sometimes leave to work for a federal agency, including the FBI, however, now “what we are starting to see is a trend of troopers leaving to become a municipal police officer.”

Cherven noted that one member left to become a sheriff in Florida, which he said is “a direct attribution to the removal of some incentives” offered at municipal departments. 

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He pointed to the fact that “several years ago we lost the Quinn Bill,” also known as the Police Career Incentive Pay Program, which was enacted by the Massachusetts legislature in an effort to encourage police officers to earn degrees in criminal justice, according to Salem State University

Cherven noted that it has been difficult to recruit troopers “if you have a 25% less stipend over some of these cities and towns that we’re competing against for qualified recruits.” 

He warned that as a result of the trooper shortage, less first responders will be sent to an incident. 

Cherven also pointed out that Massachusetts State Police troopers have been working double shifts for about three to four consecutive days, which have been “mandated due to the staffing shortfalls.” 

“They come in for their 7 to 3:30 shift and likely they’re not going to be going home,” he said. “They’re going to be forced to stay.” 

A class of 172 new state trooper trainees are expected to graduate in October, but they will not be able to completely offset this year’s staff losses, according to NBC 10.

“These numbers represent very real staffing challenges,” Col. Christopher Mason wrote in the memo. “As you know, when staffing reaches this level, the ability to use time off, officer wellness, forced shifts and increased backfill overtime costs are all negatively impacted.”

Cherven stressed on Thursday that “we need more troopers on the road,” who are “rested and well trained.”  

Several departments across the country are experiencing officer shortages, including in New Orleans. 

Glasser told “Fox & Friends First” on Thursday that the number of officers “keeps dropping.” 

“New Orleans should be at 1600 commissioned officers,” Glasser said. “We are now at about 1000, which puts us at about 60% of where we should be.”

He attributed the drop to a “variety of issues,” including “the anti-police sentiment” across the country and the “defunding efforts by city government” as well as the “overriding scrutiny of officers and citizen contacts all the time.” 

WWL-TV reported, citing Crime Coalition surveys, that in 2020, 57% of residents in New Orleans said they feel safe in the city, while only 35% believe they are safe, according to the 2021 survey. 

Glasser noted that the staffing shortage means it takes longer for officers to respond to incidents. 

“We are so short-staffed that we have a backlog of calls and they have to be prioritized,” he said, noting that “people may be waiting hours for a call that should be answered in 10 minutes or less.”  

Glasser stressed that “the public has to realize that the police are not their enemies” and that they are there “to protect them.” 

“The lack of funding and the constant push to eliminate police contact with citizens I think is a huge mistake,” he added. 

Glasser also noted that some officers, who have been leaving the New Orleans Police Department, are joining other jurisdictions, which does not have the “Consent Decree that we’ve been functioning under.” 

The Consent Decree was adopted about eight years ago and encompasses “a broad, extensive blueprint for positive change” within the New Orleans Police Department, according to the city. 

It was adopted after the United States Department of Justice began investigating an alleged pattern of civil rights violations and other misconduct by the police department, the city of New Orleans notes on its website. A few months later, the DOJ issued a written report alleging unconstitutional conduct by the New Orleans Police Department. 

Representatives with the New Orleans Police Department and mayor’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. 

Fox News’ Audrey Conklin contributed to this report. 

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