Russia employs more than 900,000 police officers to serve its population of 146 million, making it have one of the world's largest police forces, but Interior Ministry Chief Vladimir Kolokoltsev says the county is facing a "critical" shortage of officers, affecting the country's crime rates.
The numbers give Russia almost 630 officers per 100,000 people or more than double those employed in the United States or the United Kingdom; but poor wages, stress, and corruption are taking a toll, reports the BBC.
Many former officers told the BBC that they're leaving the force and taking less stressful, better-paid jobs.
One former officer from Rostov, in southwest Russia, said that "after inflation and the new prices," the salary is not enough and has not been adjusted.
He is now a taxi driver. A friend of his, who was also a police officer, is now a courier. Both earn twice as much money as they did when they were on the force.
"I reached the rank of major, but still a person working at a supermarket earned more than me — hardly dangerous work," the former Rostov officer said. "Only an idiot would join the police now."
The overstretched police forces are also refusing to open charges because they're overworked, a detective from Siberia said.
"If there's a string of 10 or so things they must do — call on neighbors, cross-examine witnesses, visit the crime scene — they'll just do one or two and write down that it 'wasn't possible' to complete the others," he said. "Then they refuse to open charges so there will be no investigation."
Corruption is also taking a toll. A police major from the city of Tomsk said that officers are "beating confessions out of people, inflating arrest quotas. We're seeing this all the time. It's only going to get worse. There will be falsification of evidence, targeted beatings. There just isn't going to be time to investigate anything properly."
He added that it's "much simpler" to drag a first suspect "back to the station and beat him up, so he takes the blame."
As a result, there are some officers who are being locked up, which is thinning out the police force even more.
The number of Russia's police officers was on the decline before the war started in Ukraine, and the hostilities even convinced some officers to remain on the job.
In Russia, police officers are exempt from being called up for military duty; so some who were ready to resign kept their jobs rather than face being drafted.
"Either you sat tight, or you left and got drafted," one officer from Moscow said. "I know there were managers who made a list of everyone who'd threatened to quit and passed it straight to the [army] recruiters. Everyone was pretty scared."
Now, police numbers are dwindling and the force is not able to fill the gaps or recruit 40,000 officers that the Interior Ministry says are needed in Russian-occupied Donetsk and Luhansk.
Police officers, though, are not allowed to call the war in Ukraine a war or have an opinion about it; and the BBC was told that officers are experiencing burnout because of the extra paperwork from the war.
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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