South Bend, IN – Nearly 80 percent of South Bend Police Department (SBPD) officers have considered quitting their jobs in the midst of plummeting morale, anti-police protests, and a lack of support from the city council, according to the police union.
The findings were the result of an online survey conducted by the South Bend Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge #36 over the course of the past week, the FOP said in a press release on Wednesday.
A total of 191 out of the SBPD’s 220 current officers responded to the anonymous survey.
A whopping 78.84 percent of the officers who responded said that they have “considered resigning, retiring transferring or otherwise leaving” the SBPD in the past six months.
“Today, the South Bend Police Department is already facing a double-digit officer shortage that’s threatening the department’s ability to operate effectively,” FOP President Harvey Mills said in the release.
“Our survey this week showed that a stunning 80% of current officers have recently considered resigning or transferring from the South Bend Police Department,” Mills wrote. “If even 10% of those officers left the force it could cripple the department and lead to the elimination of units that investigate sexual assault and homicide.”
A staggering 79% of the officers described the department’s current morale as either “poor” or “as bad as it’s ever been,” according to the FOP.
The survey was conducted shortly after the South Bend Common Council reversed an earlier vote to increase officers’ pay by 2.5 percent and to increase their residency stipend.
Those increases have been tabled indefinitely, according to the FOP.
“That decision, made in response to calls from some protesters to defund the police, further damaged morale,” the FOP noted. “At least one police officer has already retired from the department since that decision.”
The FOP said it has expressed being open to the idea of establishing a citizen’s review board, and said it is willing “to work with the Mayor and the community to improve the department and strengthen its relationship with the community.”
The SBPD acknowledged in a statement on Wednesday that officers are “struggling to find motivation,” WBND reported.
“We sympathize and empathize with communities and officers around the country, and especially here at home, that are struggling to find motivation,” SBPD Public Information Officer Christine Karsten said in the statement. “I would encourage the good officers (vast majority) to remember why we took our oath, and how it felt and meant when we did.”
Officer Karsten noted that officers vowed to “protect and serve the community with fairness and impartiality.”
“Even in the toughest of times, we can’t forget that promise. Our community needs us and we need them,” she wrote. “We have to continue to work together because ‘the police are the public and the public are the police.’ I know we will get through this and be even better than before.”