by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The number of police officers retiring in Chicago and other cities has soared amid a chorus of anti-police rhetoric that’s become increasingly loud over the past year.
In Chicago, 560 officers retired in 2020 in a police department that had about 13,100 sworn officers as of March, records show. That’s about 15% more cops retiring than during the previous year, when the number of retirements rose by nearly 30%.
In New York City, 2,500 cops retired last year, nearly double the number in 2019, according to the New York Police Department, which has about 34,500 uniformed officers.
In Minneapolis, about 40 officers retired last year, and another 120 took leaves of absence. That’s nearly 20% of a police department with about 840 officers in the city that touched off anti-police protests nationwide following the death last May of George Floyd, who was Black. A since-fired white cop knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes that was captured on video by witnesses. Police officials are waiting to see whether the leaves of absences in the Minnesota city become retirements.
“It’s serious,” said Michael Lappe, vice president of the board of trustees for the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, which oversees police pensions. “A lot of these people aren’t retiring. They’re quitting.”
Minneapolis city officials are asking surrounding communities to place some of their officers on joint law enforcement teams in the face of the flood of departures. The Minneapolis Police Department also is curtailing some of the work it normally does.
“The bike cops and the community engagement has been done away with,” police spokesman John Elder said. “Our homeless missions were scrapped. Our 911 response and our investigations are the focus now.”
In Chicago, some cops say last summer’s riots and demonstrations, which saw Black Lives Matter community activists call for defunding the police, were demoralizing.