The 'evolving crisis' that has law enforcement across the suburbs and country worried


When the Arlington Heights police department recruited recruits in 2014, 589 officers applied for the draft, and 243 of them tested for military service.

When the department did the same this year, only 136 forms were dropped, police chief Nicholas Pecora said. Only 55 suffered a setback in the last few weeks, and only 33 of them won.

“You can look at the numbers and see that there is no interest in being a police officer,” Pecora said.

The situation at Arlington Heights is very special. In the face of a devastating plague epidemic, a changing labor market and a negative public opinion on the work of the police, local law enforcement agencies and around the world are facing unprecedented challenges.


Arlington Heights police chief Nicholas Pecora says his department has noticed a dramatic decrease in the number of police officers applying and trying to join the army.
– Mark Welsh | Work Artist, 2020

This, experts say, results in fewer police officers on the road or in reducing special sections and programs designed to create better relations between law enforcement and the areas they serve.

In the Lake County sheriff’s office, for example, ministers are being transferred from special duties to security guards, bread and butter for the agency, Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said.

“Deep down, the numbers are very low, which is why you see organizations need to change their plans to have more people on the streets,” said Ed Wojcicki, executive director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. .

What is happening and why

Legal experts criticize employee problems for a variety of reasons, some of which are specific to the police and others that reflect how people work.

When the decline began before COVID-19, “everything that has happened since then has grown,” said Chuck Wexler, chief of the Washington, DC-based Police Executive Research Forum. This includes the assassination of George Floyd and Minneapolis boss Derek Chauvin and the international protests that followed.

In May, the group surveyed nearly 200 international law enforcement agencies across the country over the number of staff members and their recruitment. Results show how departments are affected by two problems – recruitment decreased by 5% last year, while resignation and resignation increased by 18% and 45% respectively.

Overall, departments have failed to fulfill 7% of their sworn oaths.

“You have a recruitment issue and you have a retention problem, when people just think this is something they don’t want to do anymore,” said Wexler, whose organization includes law enforcement officials and other volunteers to improve police operations.

“It ‘s enough to have the police officers concerned and who will be the leaders in their departments. This is very important,” he said.

Although problems such as fatigue and depression are only part of the problem, many of those we spoke to said that what was causing the problem was negative perceptions about the police from other communities and political leaders. This has led to a number of ways to transform the police force which some in the profession see as anti-police, Wojcicki said.

“It is not only the rules, but also the discussions that accompany these laws that make people reluctant to go into business,” he said. “This is what we are hearing: If you are a police officer, you are a racist. If you are a police officer, we are prosecuting you. If you are a police officer, you are probably violating our constitutional rights, well.

“This is a challenge for people who want to enter (employment).”

Also, the security system is declining today to approve the operation.

“If I go into a room and ask, ‘How many of you would put this responsibility on for your daughters or for your relatives? “few people raise their hands,” said Wexler.

Is there an answer?

Wexler and others say that there is no easy way out. Instead, departments across the country are experimenting with a number of ideas to meet their needs.

One of the common denominators – though not a long-term solution – is the search for a so-called lateral transfer.

“One of the main things they are doing is trying to steal police from other departments,” Wojcicki said, adding that he was aware of another rural department that had recently hired six police officers from the Chicago Police Department. “This is not good for the job.”

Aurora police were impressed with the fall in search of new ways to reach new officers during a recruitment drive at the Chicago Premium Outlets.  Police Jay Leonardi, left, and Jason Contreras spoke to the crowd.

Aurora police were impressed with the fall in search of new ways to reach new officers during a recruitment drive at the Chicago Premium Outlets. Police Jay Leonardi, left, and Jason Contreras spoke to the crowd.
– Courtesy of Aurora Police department

Elsewhere, departments – including the DuPage County sheriff’s office – are offering initial pay and signing bonuses of up to $ 15,000 for new jobs.

“If anyone asks if this is true or not … Wexler said.

Wojcicki said the federal government is also looking into whether there is an opportunity to reduce the number of recruits, which could take a year to find a new chief of staff.

“You don’t want someone out there who doesn’t know what they’re doing, but we’re looking at ways that can be changed,” he said.

Departments and police teams are also trying to connect directly with community colleges, community groups and tertiary institutions.

Ending the practice may also require changing the police dialogue. Wojcicki said departments are doing this by using social networking sites and other forums to ensure good policing – ranging from community safety to charitable services such as Shop with a Cop.

“You have to tell the best story about what the police are doing,” he said. “But, you know, one bad video from a distance of 1,000 miles could ruin all of that.”

In the meantime, the kings in the surrounding area and the country are hoping to return to the experimental rooms filled ten years ago.

“We will always need police,” Pecora said. “I still believe it’s a good job.”

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