The Victoria Police Department in Australia is facing a crisis, with almost one in nine officers leaving the force since 2019.
This comes at a time when the department is already struggling to recruit new members, it has been reported.
In the three and a half years leading up to July, 1912 sworn members out of the 16,700-strong workforce retired or resigned. While the overall number of officers has increased over this period, the departures and recruitment issues are a major challenge for the department.
Many of those who left did so as a result of enforcing Covid-19 rules, such as prohibiting children from playing on playgrounds.
This has resulted in the loss of thousands of years of experience, with 530 of the departing officers being of the rank of sergeant or higher.
Sixty percent of these officers had reached retirement age or left due to ill health.
In response to this crisis, the Victoria Police Department has launched a recruitment drive to try to gain 2,400 new members over the next two years.
The attrition rate for the department has increased from 3.6 percent last year to 4.7 percent this year. In an effort to address the staffing shortages, some station managers have even sent emails to all staff members asking them to "speak to their peers and encourage them to transfer" to their stations.
However, officers have criticized this approach, calling it a "solution" that only "robs Peter to pay Paul."
Due to the staffing shortages, some policing departments have been forced to reduce their hours. Many of the officers who have left the Victoria Police Department are believed to have transferred to other state police forces, with Queensland being a popular choice. One senior officer has predicted that the situation will get worse, as many of those considering retiring or resigning held on during the pandemic and lockdowns.
Another officer has called for the 41 officers who left the force due to vaccine mandates to be urgently brought back, arguing that "now is the time" to do so, given the current staffing shortages and difficulty in recruiting new officers.
The Police Association has acknowledged the issue of attrition and is working with the Victoria Police Department to identify ways to improve the recruitment process.