After a class of police recruits graduate the academy and pin their badges on they immediately begin a four week post-academy to finish out their training prior to finally hitting the street. It is in this post-academy phase that PLEA teaches a two hour career survival course and also does a member sign up presentation. Due to this, we are able to accurately track numbers of officers that have successfully completed academy training.
In 2017, PLEA had 239 newly sworn PPD officers come through our doors while in post-academy. Seems impressive and in many respects it is if you consider at least double this amount if not more had to initially start through the hiring process on the front end to come out with 239 on the back end. There is attrition at every step of the hiring process not to mention we have been told attrition rates in the academy can run as high as 30% per class.
The real question that never seems to be publicly addressed by PD management nor asked by the media is, what was the number of personnel lost in the same time frame and what was the true net gain for the department?
Data obtained by PLEA on number of personnel that separated employment from the department in the same time period (calendar year 2017) was 137.
So, if 239 made it out of the academy, simple subtraction tells us that 239 minus 137 equals a net manpower gain of 102 officers for 2017. If we take the math a little further and divide that number by 12 we get 8.5.
So, in 2017, after all the dust settled, the department averaged a net gain of 8.5 officers per month. Another way of looking at it is the net gain of officers through the academy as being 8.5 officers per month.
In fact data from the department shows that from 2010 till now the Police Department has lost 985 sworn employees along with another 110 who were police recruits for a total of 1095. The department did not begin separately tracking police recruits that left employment until 2015.
Saying that we have hundreds more officers on the street than we used to and that we are hiring and going to keep hiring is a great sound bite that only tells half the story. The fact that we are hiring is a good thing but if the current ratio of hires to attrition is this bad more needs to be done. We need to be transparent in sharing all the data with the public and to city leaders to give the true picture so that proper efforts can be made to rectify the situation.