Recruiting the 21st Century police officer (part 3)
To maintain the highest level of service to the community, police agencies must adapt to the new generation, increase standards in education, work toward a professional culture, and hire minority recruits
As the citizens in the community become more educated, policing as a profession must become more educated as well. The skills learned through college education are required “to be an effective police officer in the 21st century” (White & Escobar, 2008, p. 123). Police agencies must begin to recruit officers that have taken the initiative to better themselves through education.
The 1960’s saw police in the middle of a social conflict that forced leaders to take a hard look at policing and the criminal justice system in general (Decker & Huckabee, 2002). The 1967 report by the Presidents Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice called upon police institutions to again create a higher standard of educational requirements for law enforcement officers. In the report The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society, the commission recommended that “the ultimate aim of all police departments should be that all personnel with general enforcement powers have baccalaureate degrees” (President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, 1967, p. 109).
There are many reasons cited for the need of college educated police officers. First and foremost, the development of critical thinking skills is linked to higher education (White & Escobar, 2008). These skills are a necessity in today’s police department as agencies move to community policing and problems solving as a base line for success. Officers are frequently called upon to create solutions to problems that do not necessarily fall under the typical police crime problem. Neighborhood problems that affect the quality of life are dealt with far more frequently than typical criminal investigations. When residents have no place else to turn, they call the police to help.
A Mighty Full Plate
If the public cannot trust the police department, communication and partnership begin to break down.
While opportunities for minorities in law enforcement have increased over the last 40 years, there continues to be discrimination in the workplace in terms of hiring, promotions, and assignments (Decker & Huckabee, 2002). Police agencies must be culturally and racially diverse, mirroring the community in which they serve (White & Escobar, 2008). There has been supported research that lack of diversity in the organization may lead to poor relations with the community as well as misconduct by the officers (White & Escobar).
Police departments should use targeted recruitment strategies to bring in more minority applicants. Some suggested strategies include the use of minority recruiters, contacts with minority community leaders, and recruiting drives that specifically target minority applicants. In addition, it is recommended that recruiters maintain personal contact with minorities during the recruitment process (Decker & Huckabee, 2002). Agencies must, however, recruit minorities “without regard to race or ethnic origin” (National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, 1973, p. 331).
Cook, B. J., & Cordova, D. I. (2007, September). Minorities in higher education, 2007 Supplement. Washington, DC; American Council on Education.
Decker, L. K., & Huckabee, R. G. (2002). Raising the age and education requirements for police officers. Policing, 25(4), 289-802.
President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice (1967), The challenge of crime in a free society, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
Tyre, M., & Braunstein, S. (1992, June). Higher education and ethical policing. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, , 6-10.
White, M. D., & Escobar, G. (2008). Making good cops in the twenty-first century: Emerging issues for the effective recruitment, selection, and training of police in the United States and abroad. International Review of Law Computers and Technology, 22(1), 119-134. doi:10.1080/13600860801925045
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