Samuel Case, FISM News
St. Louis is struggling to retain law enforcement officers, with the city’s police union saying the problem has reached “critical mass.”
Police department data seen by Fox News show the city’s police force has steadily dropped off. At the beginning of 2020, the force had 1,205 employees, but as of this week, that number has dwindled to 1,035.
More than 800 officers have left the department since 2017, with over 100 officers leaving each year.
“We’re reaching critical mass,” St. Louis Police Officers Association President Jay Schroeder said.
Richard Rosenfeld, Distinguished Curator Professor Emeritus of Criminology and Criminal Justice for the University of Missouri-St. Louis, says the department would ideally have around 1,300 officers.
“We need to be back to the strength we were six or seven years ago,” he told a St. Louis NBC affiliate.
Interim Police Chief Michael Sack said the situation puts a “burden on us to perform our duties with fewer officers,” adding, “We must pay attention to staffing in the line platoons and on squads. No squad should have fewer than five officers with the optimum number being seven officers. I wish I could give you more, but this is the reality.”
Mayor Tishaura Jones has described the need for “putting the public back in public safety.” Her campaign site condones “defunding the police,” saying it “does not mean abolishing the police,” but rather, “restructuring the department and reallocating the budget to programs and resources that actually prevent crime.”
In 2021, St. Louis moved to cut $4 million in police funding, while eliminating 98 vacant positions. St. Louis has the second-highest murder rate in the nation, behind New Orleans, having had 45 homicides per 100,000 residents this year, as of mid-September. For comparison, Chicago has a homicide rate of 18 per 1000,000.