There is a time when almost every young boy goes through a phase when he wants to become a police officer more than anything else in the world. By the time their nuts drop, of course, and they get high for the first time and perhaps even endure the gut-wrenching anguish of learning that their first love blew some senior at a party, that youthful vision of a career in public service is often eclipsed by the pursuit of a profession where it is unlikely that they’ll be shot at on a regular basis.
Boys grow up, after all, and it takes a special breed to aspire to put on the uniform and spend their days busting small-time dope offenders and getting involved with people’s fuck up lives. As difficult as that life might be for you to imagine, there are those people who still sign up for this line of work. The badge, the gun, the authority to kick the crap out of crackheads and pedophiles was, at one time, enough to get testosterone-fueled meatheads on board with the “serve and protect” philosophy.
But too many Bad Lieutenants have screwed the pooch. In fact, police officers have been hit with such a bum rap over the past several years that fewer people are interested in joining the law enforcement crusade than ever before.
Applications to become a cop are down all across the country, according to a recent report from the Washington Post. Nobody wants to be a narc. Even in cities like Seattle, which offers a starting salary of almost $80,000 per year, there has been a 50 percent decline in candidates looking to wipe the scum from the streets. At the national level, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which often recruits from state law enforcement agencies, has seen a sharp decline in applications – down from 21,000 to 13,000 last year.
It’s even harder these days to keep officers once they have been hired. Forty percent are leaving after only five years on the job, the latest PERF survey finds, with 29 percent of them getting out within the first year. A lot of this attrition started once social media circles began to show how cops are not always the heroes they are often portrayed. Smartphone videos of police beatings and news of the countless killings of unarmed citizens has stoked the Fuck The Police movement.