Survey: Police Hiring Up in 2023 for 1st Time Since Before Pandemic

April 29, 2024
More officers were hired in 2023 than in any of the past four years, and departments saw an overall drop in resignations and retirements last year, according to the Police Executive Research Forum.

Law enforcement agencies nationwide are seeing an increase in hiring for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey published Saturday.

The survey, conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum with input from 214 agencies across the United States, found that more officers were hired in 2023 than in any of the last four years. Departments also reported an overall decline in resignations and retirements last year, the survey said.


Last year's increase was the first since the 2020 murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the ensuing nationwide protests. Those protests fueled public distrust in police and reportedly drove some agencies, including the Houston Police Department, into hiring crises, which was coupled with an exodus of officers to private sector jobs.

Small- and medium-sized departments reported having more officers than they had in January 2020, according to the survey. Larger agencies said their numbers slightly increased during 2023. The research forum said numbers were down 5% from where they were in January 2020.

The Police Executive Research Forum's annual surveys show police staffing had shrunk nearly 6% from January 2020 to the beginning of 2023, with large agencies (classified as employing more than 250 officers) shedding personnel at higher rates than smaller departments.

Houston police, whose $1 billion budget is nearly a third of the city's total general fund, have struggled with stagnate hiring in recent years and have since been embroiled in scandal due to an apparent lack of staffing.

In February, Chief Troy Finner announced that since 2016 more than 264,000 of his department's criminal investigations were suspended under a code that indicated "lack of personnel." At least 27 people have been charged in an ongoing review of those cases, and dozens of DNA matches in sexual assault cases that had previously gone unnoticed were uncovered.


(c)2024 the Houston Chronicle

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