The Many Reasons for a Dwindling Pool of Potential Police Recruits

The Many Reasons for a Dwindling Pool of Potential Police Recruits

By Steve Pomper

Jim Glennon: “In 1970, 12% of the population was considered obese. By 2016, that number rose to 37% based on the… same criteria.”

I wanted to revisit a question. Is it that cops don’t want to do the job? No. That’s not it. Is it that they can’t do the job because officials won’t allow them to do it? Oh, yes. But is there also something else diminishing the pool of potential recruits?

I originally wanted to reexamine the not allowed to aspect that some jurisdictions have implemented that makes it nearly impossible for cops who are already on the job to perform properly. But what about the existing pool of potential recruits’ ability to do the job at all? 

During my research, I came across an excellent article at Calibre Press by one of my favorite law enforcement writers Jim Glennon: Is Anyone Willing or Even Capable of Serving Anymore? While I was focused on “can’t because they aren’t allowed,” Glennon raised a more fundamental view of “can’t.” By can’t, he discusses candidates who are literally unable to do the job—emotionally, mentally, and/or physically.

Some jurisdictions torture cops by inflicting DEI/BLM-type instruction disguised as police training. Some also support defunding, promote anti-cop policies and laws, persecute cops, and coddle criminals. Of course, many are also encumbered with bogus DOJ consent decrees.

While we’ve heard a lot lately about various existential threats (the end of a thing’s existence), not allowing cops to do the job combined with not attracting enough recruits who are “capable” of doing the job, the future of policing in America is literally facing an existential threat, which also threatens civil society itself. 

Civil society cannot exist without law enforcement. I once wrote about the Haiti earthquake that nothing functioned until soldiers/police provided communities with security first.

Glennon began his article with a quote from Plato: “It does not matter if the cobblers and masons fail to do their jobs well, but if the guardians fail, the democracy [republic] will crumble.”

In other words, civil society cannot function without the police (internal security) and the military (external security).

Glennon wrote, “Battling evil and the criminal-minded is an ugly business. It’s witnessing a cause of discomfort for the unprepared and fragile-minded masses. Whatever the reason, from the beginning of the Republic, this has been a consistently sad reality. Dismissing the sacrifice of those who guard and protect.”

In America and around the world, the radical left has mastered creating a myth and then using it as a cudgel with which to beat its enemies. Sadly, they’ve been immensely successful with degrading law enforcement using this mythology: the police are brutal, corrupt, and routinely violate the Constitution (pretending they care about that great document).

In a survey of more than 10,000 cops conducted in 2020, Calibre Press “found… only 7% would recommend the job as a profession to family members.” I’m a member of that group and am not proud of it. Although, if non-family ask me about a law enforcement career, I always recommend choosing a department and community that appreciates cops. They do still exist. However, if cops can’t sell the job, who’s going to?   

Finding recruits who can pass a basic physical assessment is increasingly difficult. Glennon mentioned one police chief who talked about a hiring process that began with a thousand applications, of which half arrived at orientation. Only 75 of the 150 who took the written exam passed. Then, of the 45 who participated in the physical agility, 10 candidates moved on. Five failed the drug test, and “[a]fter the background, one was left, and he decided not to join because he didn’t want to work night shifts.”  

For the truly ridiculous, another official said, “One recruit showed up with an emotional service cat.”

The radical leftist sociological, cultural, and physical impacts on our society have been devastating. Kids “between the ages of 7-13” used to spend many hours outdoors where they learned how to plan, make stuff, cooperate, disagree, and agree all without adult intervention. When they got older, they played organized sports and got part-time jobs. From a young age, they were learning to become successful adults and how to function in the world. 

It reminds me of a driver my partner and I once pulled over whose rear wheel was wobbling and looked about to fall off. He told us he’d just changed his flat tire and put on one of those little temporary tires. Well, “put on” might have been overstating it. This 17-year-old boy had no idea how to change a tire properly. And though not done well, we gave him credit for trying. After we fixed his tire and drove away, we couldn’t think of a single friend who could not change a car tire at 17.

Glennon followed up the article with another piece, this one about the law enforcement leaders and trainers who swamped him with responses to his article.  

One chief in Nevada wrote, “The days of getting enough high-performing candidates to fill positions are gone. They are still out there…,” but they’re not interested in law enforcement careers. 

A sergeant brought up an unavoidably valid point. After saying he was one of the “7%” who would still recommend law enforcement for a family member, he told his daughter, “If good people don’t apply, bad people will.”

He’s right, but that brings up another significant concern. The good people, like the sergeant’s daughter, who are still applying, in unsupportive jurisdictions, will be at a higher risk of working with those bad people (officers) who will be responsible for backing the good people.

And by “bad,” it doesn’t necessarily mean bad as in a criminal We’re talking cops who are not good at police work. With lowering standards just to get a warm body in a uniform, as mentioned above, they’re not going to get the “high-performing candidates.” At least, not in the numbers necessary for creating or maintaining a solid law enforcement agency.

As the Nevada chief pointed out, the high performing candidates are still out there. But even so, if the pool is smaller due to the “ability factor,” communities must elect pro-police politicians who will restore public safety to its proper place of respect and appreciation. And allow cops to do the policing, not radical politicians and activists.