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ASHEVILLE – Facing a task “not within” his capacity as a police officer, Justin Wilson sent a somber message to the neighborhood groups with which he had worked for years.

His job with the Asheville Police Department had taken a toll on his personal life, and he decided to quit law enforcement, Wilson told the residents in an Aug. 21 email. The 10-year APD veteran said he was “blessed to exit this job with only emotional scars.”

The message was a rare glimpse into the mind of an officer, with police usually reluctant and even forbidden to speak openly about such details. It was also a singular illustration of what local and national police officials and experts say is a new trend: Police quitting in droves.

Since June 1 at APD 31 officers, including Wilson, have quit, according to figures provided to the Citizen Times on Sept. 10.

“It’s