How education impacts police performance
By Mark Bond, American Military University
In Public Safety
The Wickersham Commission and President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recommended that higher education is a means to better professional policing. Research studies show police officers who have earned a college degree demonstrate better overall job performance and have greater advancement opportunities than their colleagues without a college degree.
Research conducted by Jason Rydberg and Dr. William Terrill from Michigan State University provides evidence that having a college degree significantly reduces the likelihood that officers will use force as their first option to gain compliance. The study also discovered evidence of educated officers demonstrating greater levels of creativity and problem-solving skills.
A Field Slow To Change
Despite the research and benefits, why is the police profession slow at adapting higher educational standards and requirements for all officers? Only a few innovative and progressive agencies have instituted educational requirements for officers despite the evidence, and these agencies have reported getting a better pool of police candidates, increased professionalism, stronger community relations, and independent problem-solving skills.
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