The Evansville Police Department says it's facing a high turnover rate as more officers retire and potential candidates shy away from the job.
EPD says the number of retirements in recent months has been higher than average, and that the number of new applicants has been abnormally low.
The department attributes this to many reasons but says that the main reasons involve the national trends in both public perception of officers as well as new laws being discussed that remove some of the "critical safety nets that officers rely on to do their jobs effectively."
"Right now there seems to be an ever-increasing perception of police as heavy-handed and racist," the department said in a statement. "For the vast vast majority of officers, this is not the case. Almost all officers go into this career with altruistic motivations. We want to help and protect our communities and make the world a safer place to live."
As far as new laws go, EPD says many aren't an issue, with many "changes" already being in place within the department, such as a no "chokeholds" policy, for example.
EPD says a few major changes being discussed, however, stand to make many established officers consider retirement and many new candidates avoid the career, such as the abolishment of qualified immunity, which EPD says could allow an officer to be sued personally, even if actions taken were unavoidable and necessary.
"Without protections, the career becomes entirely too risky to consider. The job of an officer is stressful, it is often unpleasant and can involve having to make a decision to use deadly force in the defense of self or others," EPD's statement said. "Without the basic protections of those we put as guardians of our community, the departments cannot maintain adequate qualified staffing."
"The ramifications of not being able to attract and maintain a professional and qualified department will result in a decline in a safe and peaceful society but this is exactly what will happen if we don’t reverse our course," EPD said.
EPD says it understands as an agency that there are very real challenges across the nation regarding law enforcement, but that it's always striving to update and improve its training practices and protocols.
"What we need is for community backing, support of our officers and their profession and most importantly, not taking away the basic safeguards that make being an officer worthwhile," EPD's statement said.
You can see the full statement from EPD by clicking here.