When Dartmouth College progressives protesting conservatives speaking on campus last week suddenly turned their ire on the lone Hanover cop keeping the piece, the story caught Matt Mayberry’s attention.

Mayberry read the NHJournal coverage of the 80 or so protesters chanting, “Hey Hey Ho Ho this racist cop has got to go,” and he decided to act. 

“Every 36 hours, a police officer dies by suicide in this country,” the NHGOP activist told NHJournal. “And 86 additional police officers were killed in the line of duty in 2020. I want them to know we’ve got their back.”

And so this Friday, from 4 pm to 6 pm, Mayberry will be outside the Hanover NH Police Department showing his support. And he’s inviting the public to join him.

“Everyone is welcome to join me.  Bring a flag, but leave the politics at home. Friday afternoon, we act as one community supporting the red, white and — especially– the blue of our nation.”

And if you ask New Hampshire cops, they’ll tell you they appreciate the support — now, more than ever.

Police departments throughout New Hampshire have been struggling for years to keep officers on the job. Recent events have only made it worse, according to Pat Sullivan with the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police.

Part of it is poor morale as legitimate calls for needed police reform have been drowned out by radical “Defund the Police” rhetoric and the chants at Dartmouth.

The #DefundThePolice movement, though wildly unpopular according to polls, has support from prominent progressive and cultural institutions. In Minneapolis, Minn., for example, residents are voting on a measure to replace the entire police department with a “health-based” agency.

Planned Parenthood has embraced the “Defund the Police” cause, as has the ACLU.

“By shrinking their massive budgets, we can help end decades of racially driven social control and oppression as well as address social problems at their root instead of investing in an institution that further oppresses and terrorizes communities,” Paige Fernandez , a policy advisor for the ACLU National Political Advocacy Department, wrote in a recent op-ed.

Hanover Police Chief Charlie Dennis said no specific incident sparked the protest targeting his police officer. The protesters were on hand to oppose an appearance by conservative Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-North Carolina, and Karoline Leavitt.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, law enforcement retirements have gone up 45 percent, according to a report by The Marshall Project. And a recent survey of police departments across the nation found that hiring was down an average of 5 percent and resignations rose 18 percent in 2020.

Retirements rose a stunning 45 percent. And that number may go up even more in 2021 in response to vaccine mandates forcing cops to get the jab or lose their jobs.

The overall loss in law enforcement is particularly striking because police officers tend to gut out difficult times and stay on the job, according to Peter Moskos, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“They are financially locked in,” Moskos says. “If you quit, you don’t get your pension. Cops are human, too. They have a mortgage to pay. You can’t quit.”

But you can change jobs and even careers, and Sullivan said more and more police officers are considering it.

“Being treated poorly is not a new thing to police officers. It’s just the atmosphere right now, and the job market the way it is, you just can’t keep them,” Sullivan said. “There’s a huge employment market out there in the private sector which is paying a Hell of a lot more money than in the public sector.”

The poor morale is also keeping many people who might otherwise go into law enforcement from even considering the job. Sullivan said New Hampshire has close to 200 law enforcement agencies state-wide, and right now, maybe 10 to 15 of those departments are fully staffed. 

In New Hampshire, it can take a department between six and nine months to find a candidate to hire, and that’s before the candidate goes through the New Hampshire State Police Academy. The problem is more significant for the smaller departments that cannot offer the pay and opportunities that larger agencies use to attract employees. New Hampshire has a lot of small-town departments with three and five officers.

“You have the larger agencies that offer more money, more opportunities like SWAT teams, horse patrol, and community policing programs, and the pay is much higher than a smaller department. You can’t compete with that.”

Matt Mayberry believes some public support of the police this Friday afternoon in Hanover might help.

“I will stand with my ‘thin blue line’ flag and a sign that says ‘Thank You.’ I might be standing all by myself, and that’s OK,” Mayberry said.