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As good cops flee progressive cities for conservative suburbs, doors open for unqualified candidates

Criminal justice experts are warning that progressive policies are discouraging qualified candidates from seeking employment in police departments and chasing good law enforcement officers out of big cities, creating an opening for the wrong type of new blood.

“If we have this same mindset going into 2024, I think we are going to explode into a state of Third World country anarchy that we’ve never seen before,” said Meagan McCarthy, a former San Bernardino County deputy who survived a shooting only to see a California jury acquit the suspect after his defense claimed he shot at her, with her gun, in self-defense.

A neighbor captured the whole thing on cellphone video. McCarthy was the first deputy responding to a priority 1 call involving a schizophrenic man named Ari Young. As soon as she approached the house, he rushed her, pummeled her to the ground and took her gun.

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He aimed at her and fired, but the weapon jammed. He scrambled to fire multiple shots, but none of them hit her. She had a broken thumb and a black eye before additional units arrived and arrested him on the spot. She was diagnosed with PTSD and retired from policing, and she says similar stress is driving record numbers of officers to suicide. 

Four deputies in Los Angeles killed themselves in a 24-hour span last month. Chicago Police lost three officers in the same week last year.

“I think it’s important to reiterate the fact that good people aren’t becoming cops anymore,” she told Fox News Digital. “It’s the people that you don’t want becoming cops. They have lowered standards so that if you did cocaine three years ago, you can become a cop. California has made it so illegal immigrants can become police officers.”

Even though she was the victim, the system treated Young as if she’d acted improperly, she said. She calls it the “Minneapolis Effect,” blowback against law enforcement after George Floyd’s death in police custody in 2020. 

“Before the death of George Floyd, during the pandemic, when the rest of us were all sitting in our living rooms, you know who was out there? The American law enforcement was out there,” said Betsy Brantner Smith, spokesperson for the National Police Association. 

“Then, the death of George Floyd happened. It’s either COVID is going to kill me, or now I’m going to get indicted. Then we had 260 violent riots, and cops getting hurt during the riots.”

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PTSD cases soared, she said. Morale tanked. Police departments are still recovering, especially in places like Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas, where the “defund” movements and prosecutors backed by billionaire progressive donor George Soros took hold.

Brantner Smith said the NPA is “optimistic” cities will recover in the future, but it’s really out of their hands.

“The only people that can stop this are, frankly, the voters and the political leaders themselves,” she said. “Police are not elected. We’re the product of the elected officials.”

But if the policies don’t change, Joe Giacalone warns of a “self-fulfilling prophecy” by which progressives’ worst complaints about police misconduct become the new norm. Giacalone is a former New York City police sergeant who teaches aspiring law enforcement officers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Desperate for new hires, police departments may be forced to lower their standards, Giacalone warned. Compounding the issue are new laws, like New York’s Clean Slate Act, which seal certain offenses from the public record.

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“Urban cops are fleeing to the suburbs for better pay, working conditions and prosecutors that actually do their job. The progressive way will not and won’t reduce crime, just reduce people reporting it,” he said. “Now, as departments struggle to hire, what are they going to do? Lower their standards for starters. Cities like Chicago and NYC are already planning on removing the college requirement to be hired.”

There’s a problem with that, he said. Research shows police officers with college degrees use force less often than those without. Combined with a new push for laws that seal criminal records, he warned “it’s going to get stupid.”

“You weren’t convicted of those three robberies? No worries. Pled it down to petit larceny? Here’s a badge and gun,” he said.

If the positions go unfilled, cities risk facing 911 response delays, and officers could face overwhelming forced overtime, another decision that can have deadly results.

In Los Angeles, the family of murdered Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer is suing the county over mandatory overtime that allegedly left him so exhausted he didn’t see his assailant coming. His death, along with the suicides of four of his colleagues, means more mandatory overtime for their remaining colleagues.

“It can’t go on, the way they’re being treated right now,” the deputy’s mother, Kim Clinkunbroomer, told reporters earlier this week.

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Some candidates may want to become cops, but police departments don’t want them, Giacalone warned.

Bryan Kohberger, whose former friends say he was a heroin addict before he got a master’s degree in criminal justice, was pursuing a Ph.D. in criminology when police arrested him in the stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students last year. 

Tim Bliefnick, the “Family Feud” contestant who killed his estranged wife earlier this year, also studied criminal justice. So did Dennis Rader, the BTK serial killer

“Something kept them out,” Giacalone said. “Dropping the standards opens [departments] up to bad hires.”

District attorneys’ offices around the country are feeling a similar effect, according to David Gelman, a former prosecutor and now a private defense attorney outside Philadelphia. 

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“Morale is down significantly, not just because of the money, but because of the laws that are being enacted, where you have these individuals that are recidivists, and they keep doing the same crime. And the prosecutors, their hands are tied,” he told Fox News Digital. “So they get burnt out pretty quick.”

It’s so bad that he said long prosecutorial careers are “a thing of the past.” 

“In high crime areas, the people want to have more policing. They want to be more protected,” he said. “They don’t like these defunding things. So, look, you have to vote out these politicians.”

The other choice is skipping town, increasing the drain on urban departments.

McCarthy said that’s her family’s goal. She’s already left law enforcement. If she moves, the department would lose her husband, too.

​U.S. News Today on Fox News

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