Police Chiefs Are Leaving at Higher Rates Than Previous Years

In Summary

Police chiefs in large cities have been leaving rapidly since the beginning of 2020.  

Since the beginning of 2020, police chiefs have been leaving rapidly and experts believe their departure causes a gap in leadership, which makes it harder to implement criminal justice reform. According to CNN, 39 police chiefs out of the 79 members of the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) have left their roles due to retirement, resigning or being fired.  

MCCA Executive Director Laura Cooper believes the decrease in police chiefs will continue. “We do expect a couple more by the end of the year. Even more have indicated that they have every intention of retiring in early 2022,” Cooper said. “It’s definitely an issue that we’re seeing because we’re talking about nearly half of our membership.” 

Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna and Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn reported they are retiring in December. Cities like Portland, Oregon, Louisville, Dallas, Miami, Detroit and Boston are among the cities that have experienced a chief change.  

Executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), Chuck Wexler, says there is a 25% turnover every year among police chiefs. The pandemic has put pressure on police departments in larger cities to alter their policies due to the national spike in violent crime and demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice.  

“Being a police chief in America today is maybe one of the most daunting jobs there is,” he added. “You have a lot of competing challenges–funding issues, violent crime issues, implementing de-escalation, and community trust issues.” 

Although American policing is changing, Wexler is hopeful about the next set of enforcement coming in.  

“We’re at a turning point in American policing where the next generation of police leaders has an opportunity to step up,” Wexler said. “So while there are challenges, there are great opportunities because policing is going to change but it’s going to be a function of this next generation.” 

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