An array of Baton Rouge Police officers from air support to uniform patrol set up tents and tables Saturday morning and stationed themselves behind them to share information about their work—an exercise Baton Rouge (LA) Police Department leaders hope will translate to much needed new hires, as their current officer corps has fallen to the lowest count in the last three years, reports the Advocate.
The number of fully sworn Baton Rouge police officers is now 100 short of their full allotment of 698, a deficiency that has slowly grown over the last few years as officers resign and retire at a pace above that of new hires.
In 2018, the city's police agency saw the highest number of resignations in the last 10 years, with 35 leaving the department. Already this year, 24 people have resigned. Prior to last year, 2016 saw the highest number of resignations in a year with 32, the same year as the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling, which sparked nationwide and local protests about police brutality, and then a lone gunman's ambush on officers that killed three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers: Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald, and Brad Garafola.
Police officers and leaders acknowledge that low pay at the Baton Rouge police department continues to be a challenge for retaining good officers, and more recently, some BRPD officers have complained about low morale among many rank-and-file members. Some say the public's negative perception of police, and constant criticism, has continued to wear on the men and women of the force.
But police officials note that in just two weeks, 27 new cops will join the agency when their most recent academy class graduates on Aug. 19. That group will then begin field training — but officials hope their presence will be immediately felt on the streets as they respond to calls with fellow officers.