'Morale is in the gutter:' Protests, accusations taking toll on law enforcement

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan puts it bluntly while talking about the state of morale within his agency.

“It’s a bit of a dumpster fire,” Dugan said. “Morale is in the gutter, so to speak.”

Long shifts covering weeks of protests with crowds outraged by cases of police brutality, for some officers it’s too much and it’s leading to resignations and throughout the country.

In Tampa, Chief Dugan says there have been a lot of early retirements.

“We’ve had a few people turn in the towel ahead of time. That’s understandable. These are difficult times to be a police officer right now,” he told FOX 13.

In St. Petersburg, Chief Anthony Holloway has said it only takes the actions of a few bad cops to set all the good ones back hundreds of years.

“Cause people are always going to second-guess what you’re doing,” Holloway said.

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Both agencies say they are doing OK when it comes to staffing, which is good because recruitment is not.

“We did have an officer yesterday that pulled out of the process,” Holloway said. “He was supposed to start work today, so what we are seeing is people saying, '[I] don’t really want to get into this profession.'”

St. Pete just started a new policy that requires a civilian, usually a faith leader, to sit in on job interviews at the agency.

Both agencies say they are diverse and are working to improve relationships with minority communities.