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Police Shortage Hits Cities and Small Towns Across the Country

Low salaries, high risks and negative feelings toward officers are contributing to the decline, experts say

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Police Shortage Hits Cities and Small Towns Across the Country
    File, Getty Images/Spencer Platt
    In this August 12, 2013, file photo, a New York City police officer stands in Times Square in New York City. Across the nation, police forces are experiencing a shortage of recruits and officers, experts tell NBC News.

    A shortage of officers in police departments around the country could be a potential risk for public safety, NBC News reported.

    From large metropolitan areas to rural towns, diminishing pay, high risks and a bad rap are causing people to become less interested in joining police forces—a trend that policing experts say could lead to less effective policing, and therefore more disorder and crime. With the economy experiencing an uptick in jobs in recent years, people are moving away from law enforcement and choosing different career paths.

    There’s no national, centralized data on the number of police recruits or officers, but experts say that law enforcement fatalities, lower salaries and a negative narrative around policing are all driving factors in the shrinking numbers.

    "With everything happening around policing from salary to criticism, the question many people are asking is 'is it worth it?'" said Jim Burch, vice president of the Police Foundation.

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