LAPD losing personnel at alarming rates, unable to quickly hire new officers

Many kids used to dream of growing up and being a hero... a police officer. But lately, fewer are choosing the badge.

The Los Angeles Police Department is losing more officers than the department can recruit.

"In the last 3 years this organization has lost more than 600 personnel to retirement and we didn’t hire new academy recruits to replace them. Today, we’re losing more than 50 per month to retirement and we need to hire 60 in order to meet that attrition and begin to rebuild and we’re simply not making that mark," said LAPD Chief Michel Moore.  

FOX 11 sat down one-on-one with LA’s top cop to find out why the department is seeing such a decline.

"We also have a heightened attrition because of COVID, the pandemic, the toll it’s taken on people’s lives, the emotional toll as well as the civil unrest and the anti-police rhetoric, those have all been compounding factors."

With that decline in numbers, the city is suffering. Chief Moore says emergency response times are now longer and specialized units like fugitive warrants and cold cases – downsized or eliminated.  

"Service levels are suffering. Our 911 answer rate. The length of time people are having to wait on-hold on non-emergency and sometimes emergency calls are below the service standards that we want and need to achieve. Our custody services and other civilian professional classes are suffering because of a lack of personnel."  

LAPD does recruitment events at the police academy monthly now. Graduation for Class 322 only saw 27 new police officers, that’s half of what LAPD had hoped for.  

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Leading the class is Officer Casey Shelburne who will work LA’s Newton Division. He used to be a cop in Indiana.  

"I realized that I had a problem with alcohol. I ended up getting sober. I finished my law degree and when it came time to go back into law enforcement, I looked at departments all over the country. LAPD is the leader. Whatever LAPD does the rest of the country does five years later so this is the best of the best. This is where I wanted to be," Shelburne told FOX 11.  

Joining an understaffed department in the nation’s second largest city…amidst rising crime and other challenges…a couple dozen new officers, sworn-in and ready to serve to the best of their abilities.  

"It’s not easy but that’s why I joined. It’s not easy. Every day you’re challenged, every day you have to think, every day you have to emphasize and connect with people but the rewards on the other side and what you can do for people and see communities be safer, kids be able to walk to school not in fear. You’re contributing to something that outlives you and not every profession can say that they do that," said LAPD Capt. Kelly Muniz.  

"There is something to be said for going home every day, knowing that you made a difference. Even on the hard days, there are many of them, you know that you made life better for somebody," Shelburne added.