Police departments across Indiana are struggling to deal with two staffing-related trends: More officers are leaving departments and fewer people are stepping up to become cops.

Police officials told The Herald-Times they used to get hundreds of job applications for open police positions but now they may get dozens instead. And about 90% of applicants don’t make it through preliminary testing and training.

Reasons for declining interest in law enforcement careers likely include plentiful, lucrative opportunities in the private sector, but the officials also said that racist incidents, such as the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, have tarnished the reputation of the police profession, which means fewer people now want to carry a badge.

“I think police lack legitimacy in some people's mind, and therefore the reputation of the profession has declined in some folks’ mind,” said Timothy M. Horty, a former Indianapolis police officer and now the executive director of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.

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Horty said he’s seeing fewer people enroll at the academy. Classes usually consist of 125 candidates, and a recent class still had 10 spots open. A class in December has only 90 slots filled, and Horty said that class typically has a wait list.

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