Mandatory Post-Secondary Education Requirement for Law Enforcement Officer Recruits

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Law Enforcement Officer's Mandatory Post-Secondary Education Requirement Petition

 Proposal:

  • It is the opinion of the good people of the United States of America that any civil servant tasked with the maintenance of a society to such degree that they wield the authority to carry weapons and to administer lethal/deadly force should be amply and duly educated within the facilities of a higher education institution.
  • It is the recommendation of the citizens of these United States, that all officers of the law be required to have achieved at minimum eighteen college units, at an accredited college or university, external of any of the law enforcement institutions, in an area of study within the social sciences, and that this mandate be finalized before permission is granted and the acceptance process to a law enforcement training academy is considered complete.

Problem:

There has been witnessed frequent misuses of law enforcement authority, some of which have resulted in wrongful imprisonment or death of America's citizens, regardless of the associations of their race, over the years. This reality has crept into the homes of many, credited to the advancement of technology. It must not be construed as fact, a notion understood that officers of the law are not tasked with a tough job. They deal with all walks of life, to include the crazies that an average person would rather not enjoy an encounter with. This abuse in power, however, has reached a breakage point, because it has become so much more exposed than it had been in the past, and now there is outrage and division amongst the citizens of this great nation. There are advocacy groups that have begun formations of justice movements, such as the Black Lives Matter protesters and the Oath Keepers society. People have grown fed up, with the gross negligence and to some degree the callousness, of those who were sworn to uphold the law in protection of the citizens of this nation. The citizenry have lost faith in those who continue to be caught red-handed or with their hands in the cookie jar, to use ole phrases. And so, there has been some urgency to address this critical issue in our great republic, still some say, not urgent enough.

Presently, there has been an order passed down from the Executive Branch of the government which mandates the implementation of body cameras on all uniformed officers--something that is going to take some time to fully come to pass. Still, some people have a problem with this new order. They believe it to be insufficient, with citation to some of the grossly offensive activities of officers in the eyes of some that have already been cast from out of the dark through cell phone camera activism and to the insufficiency of police vehicle dashboard cameras processes. Further sentiment on the matter can be reviewed in Kimberly Fain's Viral Black Death published in JSTOR Daily and focuses on injustice against Black people.

Ironically, Black people, and in general Black men, they just seem to make up a large chunk of the news, but this matter is not exclusive to Black folk. The Guardian has created a project titled The Counted which aims to record all death by cop incidents nationally, in efforts to form an appropriate database. The Guardian reports in 2015, it has recorded that "32% of the 135 black people killed by police had been unarmed, compared with 15% of the 234 white people". It is not relevant to a point here, whether the objects of the police firearm discharge were unarmed or not, but of the fact that although 369 people were killed of whom happened to be unarmed a larger portion numerically were White and not Black. This is not to neglect that the figure does indicate percentage disproportionality with 32% vs. 15% but the point here is that it does not matter the color of the skin or racial category that a person belongs. What matters is that people are dying by the lethal and deadly force of law enforcement whether justified or otherwise (the Guardian article can be found here: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/16/the-counted-killed-by-police-1000

Reasonably, with so much abuse (physical and mental) and death associated with policing practices and the ample amount of controversy that surrounds it where concern is embedded in the hows and the whys, one may reasonably deduce, sufficiently more efficient surveillance of police actions to be the end-all-be-all to the issue. Sadly, the numbers say otherwise.

In the year 2000, the Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) began to disperse the funds required to enable law enforcement offices throughout the nation to purchase vehicle dashboard cameras. This would up the amount of police vehicles equipped with cameras from 11% to 72% according to police one dot com's website. Still, in a USA Today article published in 2007, it is claimed, "cases in which police, prison guards and other law enforcement authorities have used excessive force or other tactics to violate victims' civil rights have increased 25% (281 vs. 224) from fiscal years 2001 to 2007". This means that after dash cameras were implemented the abuse increased. Therefore, it would seem that it does not matter whether the officers are recorded, according to this data. Another notion the USA Today article pointed out was "the nation's largest police union fears that agencies are dropping standards to fill thousands of vacancies and "scrimping on training". This is, at least, some cause for alarm, if not, still a cause for some careful attention.

If one was to scour the internet in search of requirement criteria for police service, they may be surprised by what they find. All of the major cities of the major states, to include Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami and New York, a person can become a police officer, with a minimum educational requirement of a G.E.D (General Education Degree). This is a scary truth. A person need only a less-than high school level education and they will be allowed to enforce laws, carry guns and legally murder the good people of this nation. The latter of the cities mentioned, that is New York is the only of those cities which require a minimum of sixty college units (the equivalent of an Associate Degree), however there are ways around this.

In the New York police recruit requirement criteria, to become a police officer, "on or before the date of hire, a candidate must have successfully completed 60 college credits with a 2.0 G.P.A. from an accredited college or university OR 2 years of full-time active military service in the United States Armed Forces with an honorable discharge and have a high school diploma or its equivalent" (nypdrecruit.com). That means, critically, an individual who has returned from military service is presumably fit to police his/her own fellow citizens, still with only a G.E.D. Not only is the lack of appropriate education a factor, but this too fails to consider the conditions of military duty vs citizenship-police duty, relatively.

In visualization of the point hereto military service vs police service: the military functionality acts in a matter structured for an existent, knowable and direct enemy in some hostile environment, as well, it is temporary, for the most part. It must be said, this is by no means a slight to the brave and honorable men and women who have served this nation, whether in wartime or peace. This is simply a statement to point out the position, military duty (especially, in warzones) is a far stretch from at-home policing. It is not a very comfortable feeling to know that those who are tasked, to uphold the law by any means necessary, have the education of a high school kid.

Law enforcement officials are essentially social workers. They carry out policy issued by the people, for the people. They are, as a whole, components of mechanism by which society is lawfully maintained. They are effectively an establishment of order in society. Without law and order, there would surely be chaos. However, like any machine, there comes a time when there will be experienced a malfunction and as the law enforcement officers make up one component to mechanism in this social machinery, society breaks down, if law enforcement breaks down. Because of this, it seems only logical that there be diligently labored effort applied to the reconstruction of the law enforcement institution to deal with this inefficiency.

 

This petition is not a request with specific and isolated interest in the enhancement of social management skills, because such skills can be developed within the jurisdiction of the relative law enforcement office, because it is more insightful as to the qualitative state of the local society. More preciously, this petition respectfully requests for adherence to the suggestions which have been presented herein; that this educational mandate for officers of the law be developed with care to allow for refined cultural competency, improved preparedness for essential and natural modes of communication when engaged with a "suspect" and enhanced intellectual capacity of law enforcement officers, thereby improving the overall performance quality of law enforcement officers.

 

 

 Written by: Anthony R. Ivey, Jr.