The Eastern Missouri Police Academy saw around half as many recruits join in 2021 compared to 2020, and that drop-off is continuing. The main concern now is with violent crime rates increasing across the country, there won’t be enough cops to stop the criminals.
22-year-old Joe Marones is months from completing training at the Eastern Missouri Police Academy in Lake St. Louis, Mo. He’ll be the first in his family to join law enforcement, but he’s had his doubts.
“Knowing that you might not have a partner to respond fast because of the low number of officers right now at departments is one of my fears,” said Marones.
Marones says he thinks a lot of people have the wrong idea about police.
“A lot of the misconceptions are that police officers are there to just do a certain job and not be on your side, when they’re really there to be for you, and help you, and do good in your community and protect you,” said Marones.
The academy Executive Director Dr. Thomas Leasor says recruiting officers has never been this tough.
“When I started as a young police officer in 1990, it wasn’t uncommon to have you know one vacancy and there would be 100 applicants of police officers for one open position,” said Leasor.
“This is probably the worst climate for new applicants and those wanting to be police officers that I can remember in nearly 32 years of being in this business,” said Leasor.
The National Police Association says the struggle to recruit and retain officers got harder after a Ferguson Police Officer killed Michael Brown in 2014. They also say after George Floyd’s death in 2020, police have been villainized.