Public perception of law enforcement hurts recruitment

Public perception of law enforcement hurts recruitment

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Growing danger, growing criticism, and falling morale are problems facing many police agencies around the country. A near-deadly shooting of a Louisiana deputy Tuesday shows frustration in some places is reaching a boiling point.

"For Christ's sake! We're out there doing the people's work for the people's safety, and I have to stare these families in the face every day when they walk into this ER and they find out their son's all shot up," said Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand.

Jefferson Parish Deputy Steve Arnold was shot five times after trying to serve a warrant in the Ninth Ward in New Orleans on Tuesday. He remains in the hospital recovering.

Sheriff Normand responded specifically to people who made comments that they were upset that parts of the interstate were shut down so the deputy could be rushed to a hospital.

"Sometimes the insensitivity is mind boggling," said Sheriff Normand.

"I can understand Sheriff Normand's emotions. We take these officers as our responsibility so him getting emotional in the interview was what I think was warranted," said Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie.

Chief Dabadie said not only would he do the same for a life or death situation for his own officers, but that everyday, they escort ambulances to the hospitals for all sorts of people.

"We put a value on life and we're going to do everything in our power to save life," said Dabadie.

But while doing so, David Chianese, who is with a national law enforcement support organization based out of New York, said now more than ever, morale for officers across the country is at an all time low.

"Our officers can't do their job. They do their job, they're scrutinized for everything they do," said Chianese. "We have a little nano second, a window equivalent to the blink of an eye to make a decision do we fire, do we not fire."

He added that the badge and uniform no longer get the respect they used to years ago. Because of that, Chianese said "there's definitely a recruitment issue and retainment issue with police departments across the country."

Chief Dabadie said BRPD is seeing both, having lost 52 officers last year to retirements or moving to other agencies and two who passed away. When it comes to recruiting, he said their low salaries paired with a high risk career has always made it difficult but even more so now.

"I will say when I started 30 years ago, there was a different respect for law enforcement than there was today," said Chief Dabadie.

Regardless what they receive in return, he said he asks his men and women to continue doing what their badge requires: to protect and serve.

BRPD will hold its 2nd annual Meet the Fleet to recruit officers for the department on Saturday, Jan. 30. at BRPD headquarters on Airline Hwy. from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The event is open to the public and they're hoping to get people who want to be officers to come see their job is more than public perception.

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