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Understaffing hampers proactive police efforts

A heavily damaged car on a road in autumn
NOOM AO/AKGK Studio - stock.adobe.com
Artumn road. Front of black color car big damaged and broken by accident on road parking can not drive any more. With copy space for text or design

A new survey shows there's been an increase in the number of police officers on the streets since the COVID-19 exodus, but some Americans are still behaving badly when they think no one's looking.

A survey by the Police Executive Research Forum shows more sworn officers were hired in 2023 than any of the previous four years, and fewer officers overall resigned or retired.

Lance LoRusso, founder of the Blue Line Lawyer Institute, said bad behavior is still evident in communities where not enough officers were available to patrol parks or other public spaces.

"There is a segment of the population that if they don't believe there's consequences for their actions, they will not act in a lawful manner," LoRusso asserted. "They don't, because there's nobody making sure that they're taking care of their obligations and they're treating each other in a civil manner."

More than 200 law enforcement agencies responded to the survey. It showed that while small and medium departments had more sworn officers than they did in January 2020, large departments are still more than 5% below earlier staffing levels.

LoRusso says driving at excessive speeds became a problem during the pandemic from coast to coast and has not subsided in some areas. He says citizens should not hesitate to report such incidents.

"People racing cars is dangerous. It's completely anti-social, unlawful, dangerous behavior that shows a complete disrespect for the other people in your community. And yet, it's tolerated," he said.

Car break-ins also increased during the pandemic, which LoRusso said might feel like an isolated incident, but is usually indicative of a larger problem.

Raised in South Dakota, Roz Brown is a journalist with 30 years of experience. She started at KGNU community radio while a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is now a board member. After stints as reporter and News Director at KBOL, where she was the recipient of several Associated Press awards, Roz raised two children and then worked Denver's 850KOA for more than a decade. In 2017, she joined Public News Service and returned to her roots, covering local news.
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