More than 200 officers have left the Minneapolis Police Department, or have gone on extended leave, since the in-custody death of George Floyd.
The police union says an overwhelming number cited a lack of support, and felt left to fend for themselves during the riots.
Few have spoken out publicly since, but only on WCCO, one former officer agreed to tell Jennifer Mayerle about his decision to leave.
Former Minneapolis Officer Steve Dykstra spent just over four years with MPD. The 42 year old had worked with juveniles in Hennepin County, and at the jail. He says he wanted to make a difference outside those walls.
But Dykstra, who is now an officer on a small force in Iowa, says even before the George Floyd incident, he saw warning signs, including a change in the pursuit policy, on who police could chase, and when.
Statement from Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis President Sgt. Sherral Schmidt:
When you ask why so many officers have left the department in the past year, there are many reasons. The events of the past year have immensely impacted, not only our communities, but the police profession.
As a profession, we are demonized daily by many who have created a dangerous false narrative that is perpetuated by the media. Many careers were destroyed over the last year. Many officers had to leave the profession because of the experiences they were put through during the violent protests last year. Those experiences proved to be too much for them. They were unable to process the events and continue in the profession where they felt a calling to protect and serve the community. Their lives and their family’s lives are forever changed.
Furthermore, officers feel a lack of support throughout all levels of leadership, from our elected officials who have pushed a defund movement, to a City Attorney whose biases against the police were publicized in a local newspaper article, to a City Manager who sends out citywide communications with anti-police sentiments.
Additionally, officers feel a lack of support from the front office on multiple levels. These are just a few quick examples of the City leadership’s lack of care or support for the men and women who continue to serve the City of Minneapolis with honor every day.
If all of that is not enough, the department is under an investigation from the MDHR that seemingly has no limits on its scope and more recently the DOJ announced a pattern and practice investigation.
The false narratives spewed by uninformed politicians, activist groups and ultimately pushed by the media has added to the hatred towards the police, diminishing trust and support from the community.
Many in our profession are tired. Their families are tired. The daily attacks wear a person down.
So when you ask why so many are leaving take a look at how backwards our world is right now. Take a look at the lack of respect not only for the police, but the lack of respect for one another. The men and women who put on the uniform every day to protect others are hated. They are the targets of unprovoked verbal attacks and also physical attacks. Hostility is directed at them daily simply because of the uniform they wear.
So when you ask why police are leaving, pick any of the above.
Sadly, we have lost and continue to lose officers who were damn good cops and served this department honorably.