Increasing number of police-involved shootings, lack of manpower result in law enforcement burnout
FOX 2 (WJBK) - Officer-involved shootings like the one in Warren Monday, are becoming all too common and just one reason why more cops are leaving law enforcement, industry experts say.
"What’s changed is it used to be when you said 'Stop or I’ll shoot,' or you put the overhead (police lights) on, people stopped," said James Tignanelli. "They don’t stop. Resisting has become common nature."
Tignanelli is the president of the Police Officers Association of Michigan.
"It’s every man for himself out there and it’s making that position less desirable," he said. "Lack of benefits and the lack of trust in it."
He says recruiting new officers has become much harder.
"The dads and the grandpas and the uncles that used to say 'It’s an honorable job, be like Uncle Joe,' are saying 'Don’t do it, you’re crazy,'" Tignanelli said. "So we just don’t have the candidates, the pool."
Many who do stay on the force have a harder time coping with the risks. The same day as the Warren incident, gunshots were fired at an undercover Dearborn officer on the southwest side of Detroit.
The officer was not hurt - at least physically. But the stress can cause lasting trauma. It is one reason why the Police Officers Association supports Frontline Strong Together, a therapy program for first responders based out of Wayne State University.
"When I heard about this guy that we talked about from Dearborn yesterday, the first thing I said was, 'Get him to FST5.' We have Dr. Ken Wolf, our critical incident guy," Tignanelli said. "I know he got missed and you know what? The first day or two you think, 'Wow that was a pretty close call.' You laugh about it, guys make fun of you.
"But a week later, you are laying in bed going like, 'Oh my God.' You hear your kid cry or your dog bark and you realize, it was that close."
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Dearborn police officer uninjured after being shot at, in SW Detroit
Which is one of many reasons why solutions are needed, and quickly, as first responder burnout escalates.
"You have Wayne County deputies that we represent that work 80, 90 hours a week," he said. "We have dispatchers working 18 hours a day or 12 hours, five days in a row, because there’s just not any staffing.
"And it’s not something, like I said earlier that you can throw a bunch of money at, because you can’t create them that quickly."
Police department leaders say they want better policies that keep dangerous people off the streets and guns out of their hands to begin with.