A fundamental point must be made about low police recruitment in RI.
Laura Damon provides some of the reasons, in a Newport Daily News article, why police departments on Aquidneck Island may be having a hard time finding police officers:
This year, calls for applications to join the Newport Police Department yielded a significantly lower turnout than years past. …
“First of all, we have a lot of highly educated people who may not want to go into policing based on, sort of, the current way that we’ve structured policing,” [police trainer David] Lambert said. “People complain about these generational differences. … They don’t want to work nights for the rest of their lives. They don’t want to work weekends and holidays. They want more flexibility in their schedule. They want better work-life balances. And I think police departments maybe haven’t recognized that to the degree they should. [And in this job market] these kids have options.”
Also listed in the article, of course, is the anti-police sentiment promulgated by the news media and the “defund the police” movement. Consequently, even those considering a criminal justice career look more toward federal agencies and other occupations in the broader field.
Then add in COVID fears and the damage of the response thereto.
I wonder if something more fundamental should be added to the mix, too: We aren’t a confident nation. Police are the frontline, most-visible representatives of government. To the extent that people identify government with the nation, if they don’t support the project, then they’re going to be less inclined toward an occupation visibly defending it at the street level.
Moreover, the people who most support using government to impose their preferences are ideologically most primed to be skeptical of official police, preferring to leave enforcement of their policies up to somebody else.
Featured image by Fred Moon on Unsplash.