Bachelor’s degree or no college, military or no military, experience or green as a leaf? Hiring requirements vary so greatly from one law enforcement agency to the next that it may be impossible to compare being a police officer from one jurisdiction to another.
Not only do requirements vary greatly from agency to agency within a state, but how about the requirement differences from one state to the next?
Should we — as a profession and as a nation — unify the profession of police officer?
What Makes a Cop?
The job of police officer is becoming more and more complex. More bad guys are shooting at us and shooting at other people. Technology is making the inside of our squad cars look like a space ship, so we are required to be more “book smart” than ever before. At the same time, we must know how to, for example, deal with people walking down the street carrying weapons openly and demanding to exercise their “rights” while provoking law enforcement into a confrontation and recording the entire hostile encounter.
These are just a few of the issues facing the street cop today. Should we take a hard look at unifying all aspects of training and education? Do we need to do it on a regional, state, or even national level? What would the pros and cons be?
Let’s look at it from a different angle. Maybe we should prepare ourselves for how to deal with John Q. Citizen deciding he wants to decide how police officers are trained.
Shouldn’t we be ready to defend ourselves and our credentials? My point is if some legislature decides to listen to a constituent about what they think a police officer should be, we should be prepared to tell them what we as police believe we should be. We’ve seen it happen before.
The Bottom Line
Requirements for the job regulate — at least in my jurisdiction — what our county commissioners decide we should be paid. Every year when budget time rolls around, our credentials locally are compared to surrounding agencies. The elected officials may say that hiring requirements at such-and-such agency are stricter than ours, which is why they are paid more.
These are the types of arguments we are already starting to deal with and must prepare for. Is this topic something we should start working on now so that in a decade or two, the new officers will be adequately compensated?
This is your forum. I know each and every one of you has an opinion out there. Let’s hear your thoughts, views, and ideas on this — and of course your experiences and disagreements.
Being a law enforcement officer not only requires us all to perform our duties, but requires us to advance our profession into the future, and to mold and shape it to benefit the profession, which ultimately benefits the citizens we serve and protect.
Stay safe out there.