Not a police officer, but train with K9 officers. I see lots of GSD's out there, 4 out of the 6 I train with in Oregon are GSD. There are some really stellar GSD teams in Portland that most patrol guys "hope are on" if they need to call a k9. And I also know several agencies that tried mal's and then decided they weren't doing mal's anymore for some of the reason's Jeremy listed.
There are still vendors and breeders in the US that will give you the kill kill kill dog and agencies that just want a biting machine, but the people I train with put social-ness as the first "test" when getting a dog and then make sure it can "kill kill kill" when turned on (and those dogs are on the streets, with lots of finds and bites and also competing very very well in LE trials).
They also have to consider the handler. Not many first time handlers can handle an out of control or extremely high drive mali, let alone a dog that will re-direct or come up the leash.
Not that this is a debate on whether the GSD is out of LE and working overall, but I think it's a matter of the department/agency and the area you are in.
I was just training in the Netherlands last week with some KNPV clubs, where I was told from the states that GSD's were "unheard of and doomed" and never seen in KNPV. Every club I went to had some stellar GSD's that were certified and breeding. I don't know if you've ever trained with KNPV people before, but the dogs have to be pretty intense. Yet, there were usually 10-15 dogs on the field at a time, several decoys working different dogs on different things, and the dogs never redirected, never went off on other dogs, etc....Dogs that do that aren't trained anymore. Not that they are all perfect by any means, but balance seemed to be an important factor in the genetics....which was cool to see. That and the control was not only expected but seriously enforced. So one could argue that some of that was obedience and not genetics. Ol' nature vs nurture debate there.
Some of the dogs (both gsds, mals, and crosses) we tested for police work crapped out on the environmental nerve test, but you know what? Another US agency was waiting in the wings to buy the same dog we failed for our program....different strokes. The US is so huge with so many agencies that it's so anecdotal what is "seen" and "known."
So I wonder, is it that the dogs are all crap, or is it that the expectations and standards are so vastly different across agencies and the experiences on such a huge spectrum, that what looks "normal" in one area is the exception in the other area?
Jeremy, I don't think I have the experience you are looking for, but I can tell you from what I've seen...yes and no, it seems to depend on where you are looking. I saw people buying dogs from all over the world, US, Israel, UK, Palestine, Egypt, China...their tests and expectations were all over the place. Some wanted killer, some wanted a dog that wasn't strong enough to take a pinch correction because they needed to be able to teach an "out" using only verbal and a leash and flat collar, some wanted the dog that redirected and bit the tester, some wanted a dog that just wanted to eat the handler, some wanted balance...It seemed to be a matter of personal taste, honestly (and of course the standards set forth by their specific govt's and agencies). But every dog from what we considered "not-so-good" to "mediocre" to "stellar" found a job to do and was purchased.
So while I tend to be sickened by the amount of crap GSD's we all see out there, my faith isn't lost, I see nice balanced dogs in agencies, in sport, and in homes. I think there are always breeders breeding what you want, whether that's balance, or more civil, etc...I personally like the balance and can't stand it when I hear people say it doesn't exist (not that anyone here said that), because I see it all the time. In malinois, in GSDs, in DS, I know some pretty awesome specimens that are kickin' it on the streets but can be walked through a mall and pet by children without a muzzle. Like I said....different strokes I guess. ;-)