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To Educate and Serve Does having a higher education affect the skills or work habits of a police officer?

Most people think police officer spend the majority of their day perusing the streets of the city, solving crime and keeping citizens safe, so it only makes sense having street smarts is essential for police work. But what about book smarts; what about having an educational background outside of the Police Academy, where the knowledge of deductible reasoning and other life skills are taught to be used in all areas of life, not just in the streets. The idea of men and women who have completed some form of college to move on in pursuit of the Academy in hopes to make a career out of police work gives them a better foundation to build upon. Police work has been seen as just that, work; but the mentality and image of the field are changing and have the desire to be seen as a career or profession. Having police men as professionals in the work place only seem to offer a higher sense of responsibility, dignity and experience. Expectations of excellent work habits are characteristics of a professional occupation. It seems reasonable that if a police officer had excellent work habits that were consistent with those of members of other professions, then over time policing would be seen as a true profession. The professionalization of police work and its connection to education was noted as early as the 1930s by August Vollmer and later by presidential commissions in the 1960s and 1970s. These recommendations resulted in many of the requirements established in today's state peace officers standards and training boards. Starting in 1982, police officers in Minnesota were required to have a two-year college degree. The presidential commissions concluded that law

enforcement should become more like a profession, and one of the fundamental aspects of professional occupations was that they required education beyond high school. Their reasoning led the commissions to recommend that educational requirements for police officers be raised from a high school diploma to a college degree. The overarching thought seemed to be that if law enforcement officers became more professional, then the unprofessional actions of law enforcement officers would be curtailed. This approach seemed reasonable; but the basis for the commissions' findings and recommendations was anecdotal stories and assumed correlations between education and improved police officer behavior. There are many benefits to hiring a college educated officers. With the increase of demand from the public for professionalism, more and more departments are hiring educated recruits. With these qualifications, officers are more likely to have better communication skills and independent thinking needed to deal successfully with many different types of people and problems. Not only are you attracting better candidates who are more adept to working with others, problem solving, but they tend to have higher success rates as well as better work ethic. Police officers with college backgrounds will be more likely to have stronger communications skills, which are an important aspect of community policing. Solving problems within a community does not always focus on finding violators, which requires officers to draw on a greater base of knowledge to solve problems. Higher education experience also strengthens oral and written communications skills that officers need to improve their report writing. Although the idea of having our police as well educated individuals sounds promising, it does have some draw backs. The type of work that is policing is very physically demanding as well as mentally. It usually intrigues those people who are more hands on and understand problem solving and street-smarts. High school as well as college can be very daunting to some;

having to take required general education courses that have been seen as anxiety builders or caused people to drop out completely because they are too difficult for them to handle. They may not be the best at Math and cant seem to pass a single course; that in itself is discouraging. I believe that recruitment of willing individuals to do the rough and tough, nitty-gritty of police work could drastically decline. Most people who obtain a higher education are looking for a career with a higher wage. The pay rate of police work now would not satisfy someone of a higher degree and would ultimately limit the amount of capable, qualified individuals. The only thing that would balance this out would to be to increase the wages of a police officer depending on their level of education. And with that the higher ranks or brass would need to be required to obtaining the highest level of degree such as a Masters Degree. In law enforcement training, there are still some instructors who criticize the recruitment of officers who have college degrees. This criticism comes in the form of teasing or sweeping statements regarding the importance of street smarts and common sense versus book smarts, and behavior and comments placing added value on street smarts. Similarly, when officers enter the field training program, they are often assigned to work with veteran officers who utter statements similar to "Forget about what you learned in the academy, kid. Things are different in real life." Tim Dees, a retired cop and Criminal Justice Professor stated: Critics of law enforcement often like to characterize cops as dimwit thugs who resort to pushing people around when they meet any kind of resistance. Law enforcement is an extremely complex job, if it's done correctly. The necessary skills borrow from a dozen different disciplines that don't otherwise have a lot to do with criminal justice. A proper four-year college program in any discipline requires tenacity, critical thinking, advanced literacy skills and looking at

problems from more than just the most accessible perspective. Proper problem solving on the street, which is what good police officers do, requires the same skill set. In conclusion, I do firmly believe that setting the bar higher and increasing the standards of our police force does not only benefit the community with their increased skills sets but it will also protect each one of them serving on a daily basis by supplying them with the critical thinking and professionalism gained with education. The rank advancements and wages would have to be increased immensely to satisfy the qualities and experience of recruits but it does insure us with a better equipped force.

Works Cited

Bowman, Theron. "Educate to Elevate." Police Association for College Education (PACE). N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Aug. 2013. Carter, D.L and Sapp, A.D. College Education and Policing: Coming of Age. FBI Law Bulletin.(n.d) Pag 8-14. Jan.1992. Web. 01 Aug. 2013 Mayo, Louis. "Police Chief Magazine - View Article." Police Chief Magazine - View Article. N.p., Aug. 2006. Web. 01 Aug. 2013. Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training. N.p.: n.p., 1991. A Study of the Minnesota Professional Peace Officer Education System. Web. 1 Aug. 2013. Police. National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals. Washington D.C: Government Printing Office, 1973. Print. Saunders, C.B, Jr. Upgrading the American Police. Washington D.C: Brookings Institution, 1970. Web. 1 Aug. 2013. "The Impact of College-Educated Police Force." Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association (n.d.): n. pag. Print.