Why Educated Cops Matter

“Our results demonstrated that college minimums are associated with as much as three times lower rates of police-related fatalities involving Black people than police forces without a college degree requirement…”

I have argued for over six decades the importance of hiring college-educated police officers. Not that some high school-educated cops cannot do a good job, but rather the pressures and expectations of today’s police demand highly educated police— especially when it comes to data showing they tend to use less force when carrying out their duties.

On the first department I led in Burnsville, Minnesota I was able to implement a 4-year degree requirement. That was in 1969. Today, the City of Burnsville continues to hold this requirement for their police.

Requiring highly-trained and college-educated police is the strongest step that America can take toward improving their police and building the competence, trust, and support that is necessary and essential to effectively police a free society.

At last count, only about one-percent of the 16,000+ police agencies in America require a four-year college degree for their new hires.

Read more about this study HERE.

9 Comments

  1. I completely agree with you on the requirement for a college education. I have been advocating it for over 20 years myself when I ran half-time a degree completion program for officers in CJ. In the agencies I’ve led, I at least got a year requirement passed, but its been hard and now many communities believe sliding backward will help our recruitment problem. This could not be a worse time to reduce our requirements and expectations, and truth be told, I don’t think it’s a lot to ask for a job that starts at nearly $70K now and an average of $100K after 5 or 7 years.

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    1. Too bad teachers can’t make that kind of money ($70.000) since they have to obtain a degree in order to be a teacher and then go back to school and learn how to be a teacher and then make $100,000 in 5 to 7 years. It is also ridiculous that schools can’t be funded like the police. Instead, teachers have to pay for things out of their own pockets.

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  2. How would a college degree in Criminal Justice help lower the rates of police-related fatalities involving Black people? There are plenty of cops who have that kind of degree; however, it hasn’t changed their attitudes towards certain religious, ethnic, social, political, and economic groups in America.

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      1. What I meant was how many cops have taken and got degrees in Asian Studies, African studies, Sociology, Cultural Anthropology, American labor history, classes about other countries, being taught real American history that is not being taught in the schools, etc. Criminal Justice doesn’t cover those things in its curriculum

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      2. Absolutely. I hired many with theater and music degrees. For me, the usual CJ curricula was simply too narrow — did not turn out truly educated men and women.

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      3. Thom Hartmann of the Thom Hartmann show pointed out how even civics classes have been cut out of the schools for a long, long time due to the defunding of the schools.

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      4. Sadly, not always true.

        “Never confuse education with intelligence, you can have a PhD and still be an idiot.”

        ― Richard P. Feynman

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