The Case for College Cops: Now More than Ever

Philadelphia PD’s decision to drop their 2-yr college requirement for police applicants is dead wrong. Instead, they should raise the entrance requirement to a 4 yr college degree. We need police leaders casting a vision of greatness and professionalism from a new kind of police officer that can help raise trust and support. That’s what you get with college cops!

Especially now when use of force is the major issue in urban policing. Philadelphia needs to think this through.

Improving Police: A Necessary Conversation

Unknown-6According to an article in Police Quarterly, better-educated police officers resort less often to using force.

“Weighing in on a long-simmering dispute, a recent study for the Police Quarterly shows that officers with some college education are less likely to resort to force than those who never attend college.

“The study found no difference with respect to officer education when it came to arrests or searches of suspects. But it found that in encounters with crime suspects, officers with some college education or a four-year degree resorted to using force 56 percent of the time, while officers with no college education used force 68 percent of the time (my emphasis).

“’Force’ included verbally threatening suspects, grabbing or punching them, using mace or pepper spray, hitting suspects with a baton, handcuffing, throwing to the ground, or pointing or firing a gun at them.

“’Up until now, the studies have…

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  1. The President’s (Johnson) Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recommended in 1965 that all law enforcement officers have a four year degree and have portable retirement credits so that they could function as professionals in the marketplace. Unfortunately there were two strong constituencies that opposed that: management and labor.

    Management correctly understood that the cost of police labor would increase in a competitive marketplace. In a few localities government leaders recognized the value of college educated officers and were willing to pay for that. Public budgeting is the appropriation of values.

    Candidly I can’t explain why police labor didn’t recognize the realities of labor economics. We are all paid based on how easily we can be replaced. I don’t know how many police labor leaders I have heard say you don’t need a college education to be a cop, all you need is common sense. Those labor leaders are in effect saying that just about any warm body walking down the sidewalk can be trained to be a good officer.

    We should all retire from a profession that we would not be qualified to enter if we possessed the same qualifications we possessed upon entry to the profession.


    1. Yes, I see the same things over the years. Why is it police union folks don’t see the 4 yr degree as a way forward and a way for better pay? I could say the same things about the proliferation of handguns — the instruments that most often cause police deaths (and not wearing seat belts!). As an easy answer I would mention the first obstacle to police improvement — anti-intellectualism. And we won’t have an intellectual police without them being highly educated. Whoa is me!


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